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ENGLISH readers are more or less familiar with the most 
striking events in the history of Norway in the heroic 
days, but so far as I have been able to discover, no English 
writer has endeavoured to trace the history of the Church 
in Norway, from its foundation in the time of Olaf Tryg- 
vess0n, down to the period of the Eeformation. If I am 
correct in this, the omission seems a strange one, as the 
Church in Norway was the only daughter of that of 
England to be found in Europe. Her missionaries, it is 
true, laboured in many parts of the Continent, but I think 
that in no country, except Norway, could it be said, that 
they helped to found and nurture a national Church, where 
none before existed. 

Under these circumstances, I have for a long time wished 
to supply English readers with a history of this Church; 
and a close acquaintance with Norway, extending over 
thirty years, makes it, I hope, not altogether presumptuous 
to attempt the task. With this object in view, I obtained, 
some ten years ago (through my friend, the late Pastor 
Andreas Hansen), the kind permission of Dr. A. Chr. Bang, 
now Bishop of Christiania, to translate his valuable Udsigt 
over den Norske Kirkes Historie under Katholicismen. 
Further consideration, however, showed me that this work 
presupposed an acquaintance with the history of the 
Norwegian Church, such as few English readers possessed, 
and which was necessary in order fully to appreciate this 
valuable survey. I felt, therefore, that a history of the 
Church on broad lines, and avoiding mere technical details, 


might prove of interest, and so the present work was 

Further study of the subject led me to call this book a 
" History of the Church and State in Norway," as I think it 
will be found that in Norway, Church and State were more 
closely connected than in any other country in Europe. 
As the work is indeed primarily a history of Norway from 
its ecclesiastical side, I have therefore not followed more 
closely than it seemed necessary, the various purely civil 
events and the warlike expeditions to other lands in the 
early days. 

The main object I have had in view was to trace the 
history of the growth, development, vigorous life, and 
subsequent decline and fall of that Church, of which the 
foundations were mainly laid by the English fellow-helpers 
of Olaf Trygvess0n and Olaf the Saint, at the end of the 
tenth and beginning of the eleventh centuries. I have 
further wished to show the way in which that Church was 
related to the State, and the struggle which it had for 
supremacy, closely akin to that carried on about the same 
time in other countries of Europe. 

The story is a deeply interesting one, and in this I 
hope the reader will agree with me. If not, then 
the fault is that of the narrator, and not of the events 

Elsewhere will be found a fairly comprehensive list of 
authorities employed ; but I wish to acknowledge fully 
my obligations to my predecessors who have written on 
this subject in modern times, especially to the writings of 
such wonderful learning and research as those of the late 
Professor Rudolf Keyser in Den Nor she Kirkes Historic 
under Katholicismen, Dr. Konrad Maurer in Die Bekelirung 
des Norwegischen Stammes zum Christ entliume, and to 
the more recent works of Bishop Bang, Absalon Taranger, 
A. D. J0rgensen, and the late Professor Dr. E. T. Nissen. 


Lastly, I must express my gratitude to those who have 
assisted me in the preparation of this work, especially to 
Professor Dr. Yngvar Nielsen, Rector of the University of 
Christiania, for advice respecting original authorities and 
also for much useful information ; to Pastor S. Hoist Jensen, 
for reading the proofs of the entire work, and for many 
valuable suggestions and corrections ; to the Very Rev. 
G. W. Kitchen, D.D., Dean of Durham, for advice on many 
points ; to Mr. Clement 0. Skilbeck, for his admirable 
picture for the title page, of St. Olaf and his design for the 
cover ; to Herr Konservator H. Schetelig and the autho- 
rities of the Bergen Museum, for permission to photograph 
some of their antiquarian treasures ; to my son, Mr. Olaf 
Willson, B.A., for many references in English and foreign 
authorities, for his appendix on the Norwegian stavkirker, 
and for the index ; and above all, to my wife, without 
whose unfailing aid and encouragement this work would 
probably never have been completed. 


March, 1903. 


PREFACE ..... 







- X. 
























HAAKONSS0N 185 208 


HAAKON V 225234 





OF THE END 295 327 






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NIDAROS . 365 367 





BORGUND StavkirJce 


HEDRAL .... 



Title page. 


. To face p. 46 

1 MOSTER .... 



. . 112 

Irke ..... 

. . 132 

OM LUR0 .... 


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. . 258 

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. . 322 





Ix the following list will be found the principal authorities, both 
mediaeval and modern, used in this history. The list is not, however, 
by any means an exhaustive one. 

The H&imslmngla of Snorre Sturlass0n (b. 1178, d. 1241). Prom the 

earliest times down to the battle of Re, 1177. 
The Sverre's Saga, Haakorts, Guthorm's and Inge's Saga, Haakon 

Haakonss<jyn?s Saga, by Karl Jonsspn, Sburla Thordss0n and others. 

From 1177 to 1263. 

Fagrskiinna. A history from Half dan the Black to Sverre. 
Agrip. A fragment of great value, probably from 1190. From Halfdan 

to Sigurd Jorsalfarer. 
Flateyarboh. A MS. from the island of Flatey (Iceland) : a collection of 

various Sagas to 1395. 

Saga of Olaf Trygvessijyn,, by Odd, a monk of Thing0re, in Iceland. 
Olafden helliges Saga, edited by Munch and Unger (Ghristiania), 1853. 
Bishop Arne's Saga, and Bishop Laurentius's Saga. 13th century. 
Danorum Historic, by Saxo-Grammaticus. 
Historia de Antiquitate regum Norwegiensium, by Theodoricus Monachus : 

in Langebek's Scriptores rerum Danicarum, Vol. V. 
Gesta Hammalurgensis Ecclesiw Pontificum, by Adam of Bremen. 

The following Chronicles in places referring to Norway : 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle : Florence of Worcester, "William of Malmesbury, 
Simeon of Durham, Roger de Hoveden, Matthew Paris, William of 

NorgesGamleLove (The Old Laws of Norway), Vols. I.* V. (Christiania), 
1846 95. A collection of the ancient ecclesiastical and civil 
legislation, and other documents, from the earliest times to 1387. 

Diplomatarium Normgicum. A collection of documents relating to 
Norway ; first volume issued in 1849, and the remainder at 
intervals since that date. 


Del Norske Folks Historic, by P. A. Munch, in eight vols. (Christiania), 

the two last relating to the union period. 

Norges Historie to 1387, by Rudolf Keyser, two vols. (Christiania). 
Udsigtover ** Norske Folks j B j R ^ (Chrisfciania)> 

Histone, four vols. ) 

Illustreret Norges Historie, by 0. A. 0verland (Christiania). 
De ffirste Konger of den Olden- 

By C. Paludan-Muller (Copenhagen). 
By Rudolf Keyser (Christiania). 

borgske Slagt 
Orevens Feide 
Det Norske Kirkes Historie under 

Katholicismen, two vols. 
Die Bekehrung des NorwegiscJien Stammes \ By Dr. Konrad Maurer 

sum Christenihume, two vols. j (Miinchen). 

Udsigt over den Norske Kirkes Historie } By Bishop Dr. A. Chr. Bang 

under Katholicismen } (Christiania). 

De Nordiske Kirkers Historie, by R. T. Nissen (Christiania). 
Den Nordiske Kirkes Grundlmgdse } _ 

ogflnh UdvMmg \ B ? A " D ' J^gensen (Copenhagen). 

Den Angelsaksiske Kirkes Inflydelse } _ 

p J & Norske. \ ^ Absalon Taran S er (Ohnstiama). 

De Norske Klostres Historie, by C. C. A. Lange (Christiania). 
Dm Danske Kirkes Historie } 

ftr teformationen \ ^ L ' Helve S (Copenhagen). 

Norges Helrjener, by Prof. Ludvig Daae (Christiania). 
Passio et miracula leati Olaui, edited by F. Metcalfe, M.A. (Oxford, 

Clarendon Press). 

Throndhjem i Fortid og Nutid (997 1897). Various authors. 
Berqmfra de jfflldste Tider } , _ y 

MB Nutidm. \ ^ Professor Dr ' Yn ^ var Nielsen ' 

Den Sorte D$d i del Ude Aarhundrede, by Dr. A. L. Faye (Chrisfciania). 
The introduction to Laing's translation of the " Heimskringla," by 

Rasmus B. Anderson, in four vols. (London), 1889. 



The Coming of the Northmen Their Religion Temples Festivals 
Geographical Divisions Local Government. 

THE Norwegians are a branch of the great stream of 
Teutonic migration, which flowed from its original home in 
Asia over the northern part of Europe. At what time 
these invaders displaced the aboriginal inhabitants of the 
Scandinavian peninsula, we have no certain means of 
ascertaining, though some have affirmed that Odin was an 
historical personage who, some three centuries before the 
Christian era, led his victorious hosts across Europe. We 
may take it, however, that about that time these Teutonic 
tribes crossed the narrow seas between the Scandinavian 
and North German lands, and established themselves on the 
great peninsula. Gradually they drove back the primitive 
peoples they found thinly scattered over the country, men 
most probably of Mongolian origin, and whose descendants 
still survive in the wandering Finns and Lapps of the far 
north of Norway and Sweden, 

The entire Scandinavian peninsula was at that time 
largely covered with dense forests, and in these the invaders 
established themselves, and gradually clearing open spaces, 
in time proceeded to cultivate the land. Eventually they 
worked their way down to the western and north-western 
coasts, and quickly became expert in seamanship, and in 
reaping the rich harvest which the well-stocked waters 
of the North Sea afforded them. The acquaintance thus 
gained with the ocean, and especially the tempestuous 

C.S.N. B 


North Sea, soon made them the most skilled sailors in 
Europe, and the way in which this sea power was in later 
centuries developed, can easily be traced in European 

Like the other Teutonic nations of whom Tacitus tells 
us, they were all free men, and had with them slaves or 
thralls, who were generally captives taken in war. These 
were mere chattels, and their lives were at their masters' 
disposal, but they might, and sometimes did, obtain their 

The settlers did not live in towns or villages, but each 
man had his own farm or gaard, though, for protection's 
sake in earlier times, they were usually not very far off 
from one another. This absence of towns, and division of 
the land into freeholds, was a characteristic of the Nor- 
wegians, and exercised a very remarkable influence over 
their subsequent history ; for it was always the country 
parts, and not the towns, where the preponderating political 
power lay, and the free landowners, unfettered by feudalism, 
and practically without an aristocracy (the chiefs were only 
the larger landowners), controlled and directed the policy 
of the nation, meeting in the assemblies, or Things, where 
all free men had an equal voice. 

In religion they were practically the same as many of 
the other Germanic tribes, but we have the advantage of 
possessing a full account of their theories of the Universe 
and the gods, in the very remarkable early literature of 
Iceland which has been preserved for us. In the older 
Edda, which is chiefly concerned with the mythology of 
the North, we have the V01uspaa poem, one of the earliest 
and most picturesque accounts of the faith of the 

As the heathen beliefs and practices must naturally have 
much to do with the beginnings of Christianity in Norway, 
it is necessary we should have some knowledge of them. 


The universe, in the old Norse mythology, was divided 
into Muspelheim and Niffelheim, the former the abode of 
light and fire, and the latter a dark and gloomy land of ice 
and snow. Between these lay Ginmmgagap, a swelling 
deep " without form and void," and in which there was no 
life. Deep down in Niffelheim there was a well from 
which an ice-cold stream sprang, and flowed into Ginnun- 
gagap, and the spray from this, meeting the warmth and 
fire of Muspelheim, produced the Giant or Jotun, Ymer and 
his cow Audhumbla. On the milk of this cow the Jotun 
lived, and the evil race of the Jotuns sprang from him. 
The cow licked the salt from the rocks, whence sprang 
Bure, whose grandson was Odin. The Giant Ymer was 
killed by Odin and his brothers, and from his dead body, 
which was cast into Ginnungagap, the world was formed. 
His flesh was the earth, his blood the sea, his hair the trees, 
his bones the mountains, etc. All of the race of Jotuns were 
drowned in Ymer's blood, except one who with his wife 
escaped in a boat ; their descendants were allowed to live 
beyond the utmost bounds of the sea in Jotunheim. The 
interior of the earth was peopled by dwarfs or Trolds, 
usually malign spirits. 

The earth having been created there were yet no men 
upon it, so Odin and his two companions, H0ner and L0der, 
went down to it, and finding two trees, formed from them 
the first man and woman, Ask and Embla. 

The home of the Gods was Asgaard, with its beautiful 
hall Valhalla, where they feasted and where the Valkyries 
attended on them, and did their bidding. The gods were 
known as the JEser, or Aser, a name said to be derived 
from a word signifying a spiritual being, and the belief in 
the gods was called the Asatro. 

At the head of the gods was Odin, the all-father, whose 
wife was Frigg, the all-nourishing. Their son was Thor, 
the Thunderer, the benefactor of the world, and the friend 

B 2 


of mankind, to whom the Norwegians seem to have assigned 
a higher rank than Odin, to whom the other Teutonic tribes 
gave the highest place. Thor was the relentless foe of the 
Trolds and Jotuns, against whom he waged war with his 
far-famed hammer Mj01nir. 

The other chief JEser were Ni0rd, the giver of riches 
and the ruler of the winds and protector of sailors. His 
daughter was Freya, the Venus of the North. Then there 
was Baldur the Beautiful, the Sun God, who was killed by 
the evil Loki, one of the race of the Jotuns, whom the gods 
had taken as one of themselves. Braga, the son of Odin, 
was the god of the spirits of the dead. 

In addition to these and many others, there were local 
gods and household gods, held in veneration in certain 
places, and not universally reckoned amongst the inhabitants 
of Asgaard, and only worshipped by certain families. These 
survived in Norway for centuries after the introduction of 
Christianity, though of course only worshipped in secret, 
and the household divinities actually survived down to our 
own day, and may possibly still exist. 

We must not lose sight of the Trolds, the spirits of the 
mountains and the forests, whose power was always dreaded, 
and whom the people were always ready to propitiate with 
offerings. Against them, as we have seen, Thor waged 
war, and when the faith of the "white Christ" vanquished 
the Asatro, we find St. Olaf takes the place of the Thunderer 
as their opponent and conqueror. Troldom was always in 
Christian times an offence of the greatest magnitude, and 
we find constant ecclesiastical legislation on the subject. 

The worship of the gods was probably in the earliest 
days conducted in the open air, and in a grove of trees, 
but later we know temples or Hovs were built, and these 
we frequently meet with in the first days of Christianity 
in Norway. 

The temples were in shape very much the same as the 


earlier Christian churches, and there seems little doubt 
that some of them were adapted to Christian worship on 
the overthrow of the heathen gods. The sites of the 
temples, at any rate, were utilized for building churches 
which survive down to our own day. 

The Hov usually consisted of what we might call a 
nave and chancel or apse. In the nave there was one, or 
sometimes two doors which were placed in the long side of 
the building, and not in what we would call the west wall. 
In the centre of this nave there was a large flat fireplace, 
where the flesh of the sacrifice was cooked and eaten, the 
smoke of the fire escaping through holes in the roof. 
Along the side of the walls ran benches, and in the middle 
of these, or sometimes near the door, were what were called 
the h0iscede (high seats) with their stolper or pillars, where 
the chief sat who officiated at the sacrificial rites. In 
the partially enclosed apse or chancel, stood the altar of 
sacrifice which was placed on a slight elevation above the 
floor of the building. On this altar the victim, usually an 
animal, sometimes a human being, was slain and the blood 
caught in copper bowls kept for the purpose. This blood 
was then sprinkled on the altar, the walls, the images, and 
the worshippers. 

On the altar was a golden ring which the officiant 
carried during the ceremonies, and on it all oaths were 
sworn at the Thing. Behind the altar was the image of 
the principal god, usually Thor, and ranged in a semi-circle 
were other images. 

When the sacrifice was over, the flesh of the victim 
was cooked in great pots which hung over the fire, and 
the feast began. The people brought their own supplies 
of beer as well as the animals used in sacrifice. There 
were no priests as a separate caste (a fact which had a 
very important influence afterwards in the spread of 
Christianity), but the chief man of the district acted in 


that capacity.* When the feasting began the horns were 
filled with beer, and were blessed in honour of the gods. 
Then the skaals were drunk, to Odin or Thor for victory ; 
to Ni0rd and Freya for good crops and peace ; and to 
Braga for the souls of the dead. 

There were three great festival blots, or sacrifices, held 
every year : the winter blot, on October 14th, the mid- 
winter, or Jul, at first on January 1 2th, afterwards transferred 
to Christmas;| and lastly, the summer blot, on April 14th. 

In addition to the regular temples built of wood, there 
were also altars which were erected in the open air ; these 
were called H0rg, and the word still survives in the names 
of several places in Norway, f 

The temples were of two classes, the public and the 
private ones. The former were the Hovs, belonging to 
esichfylke or division of the country, and these were again 
divided into herreds, where there were also temples. 

The other class consisted of what might be called private 
chapels, where some wealthy chief kept one up at his own 
expense. The public ones were supported by landed 
property assigned to them, and partly by taxation. 

The temples were sacred, and any one desecrating them 
or breaking the peace in them was liable to outlawry. 
This was not uncommon, as the feasting and frequent 
skaals drunk, often led to very deadly quarrels in the 
course of the celebration of the blots. 

Pilgrimages were made to the more famous temples, and 
were undertaken in later days even from so great a distance 
as Iceland. 

Such was the religion of the Norwegians in the ancient 
times, and we have given these particulars with regard to 
it, as it is necessary we should bear them in mind when 

* These offerings might also be made by women. 

t See p. 26. 

J In Voss and Hordaland, also in names of mountains. 


we come to deal with the struggle between the forces of 
heathenism and Christianity. We shall see that the early 
Christian missionaries were fully conscious of the advis- 
ability of adapting as far as they could the heathen 
customs to Christian usages, and making the transition 
as easy as possible for their rude converts. 

In order to follow the course of events in the history of 
Norway, we should understand something of the geo- 
graphical divisions of the country in mediaeval times, and 
carefully study the map. 

In the early days the whole country was divided into 
what were called fylker, literally " folk land," the districts 
inhabited by certain folk. These districts were mostly 
greater than the largest of the English shires in modern 
times, but they varied considerably in area. They corre- 
sponded somewhat to the amis into which Norway is now 
divided. These fylker had mostly a petty king or chief 
over them, usually the largest and most powerful land- 
owner, but to him the people paid no taxes he was only 
their chief and leader in time of war. The fylker were 
again subdivided into herreds or hundreds, and the chief 
man there was the Herse. 

The population consisted of the B0nder and their thralls. 
It is difficult to find an English word which will accurately 
render the meaning of the word Bonde, the singular of 
B0nder. To translate it as some have done, by the word 
peasant, conveys an entirely incorrect meaning. The 
Norwegian Bonde was a free man dwelling on his own 
land, having no lord over him to whom he was under any 
of the obligations of feudalism. His obligations were to 
defend the country when attacked, and to contribute to 
the support of the Hov. This tenure of the land was 
called Odel, and any attempts to interfere with it met with 
the strongest opposition. The B0nder, however, sometimes 
let out a portion of their land which they might not 


require, to others, but these Leilcendinger, as they were 
called, were also free men. 

In all the subsequent history, it is important to bear in 
mind that B0nder were really the depositaries of all political 
power, and that they formed a class which was in many 
respects unique in Europe. In later days their power was 
curtailed and reduced, but the absence in Norway of the 
feudalism which prevailed over the most of Europe gave 
them an influence in the history of their land which was 
very remarkable. 

Local self-government prevailed in Norway from the 
earliest times. The B0nder met in councils called Things, 
where the affairs of the district were settled. There were 
Things for each fylke and herred, to decide the more local 
questions, and there were also the greater assemblies of the 
people, in centres where many of the fylker were grouped 
together, and where the laws were made. Thus we find 
for the northern fylker there was the great Frosta Thing, 
which met at Frosta on the Trondhjem Fjord, and which 
legislated for Tr0ndelagen and Haalogaland ; the Gula 
Thiug for the western and southern fylker; and the 
Eidsiva Thing for the more central parts. These gatherings 
were the parliaments of Norway ; at them the kings were 
chosen, and we find that, in order to secure uniformity in 
the laws proposed by the early Christian kings, they were 
obliged to have the consent of each of these assemblies of 
the free men of Norway. 

In the early days the northern fylker, and especially the 
fertile district of Tr0ndelagen, enjoyed the greatest political 
power, and the candidate for the crown who secured the 
adherence of the Frosta Thing was almost certain to be 
successful with the other assemblies. Tr0ndelagen was also 
the stronghold of heathenism, and the two Olafs met there 
with more opposition in their efforts on behalf of 
Christianity than in any other part of the land. 


The far north of Norway, with its sparse population of 
Lapps and Finns, had practically no part in the history of 
the country ; it remained heathen for centuries after the 
rest of the land had been converted, and afforded an outlet 
for the crusading zeal of the kings, in the days when the 
Saracens were left in undisturbed possession of the Holy 
Land, and the fierce enthusiasm of the eleventh and twelfth 
centuries had passed away. 


Halfdan the Black Harald Haarfagre The Consolidation of the 
Kingdom Internal Government Repressive Measures and their 
Results Harald's Sons Erik Bloodaxe Haakon Harald's Death 
and Creed. 

IT is not until the middle of the ninth century that we 
begin to emerge from the mythical period of Norwegian 
history, and come to the reign of Halfdan Svarte, or 
Halfdan the Black, who was a petty king over the region 
lying to the west and north of what is now the Christiania 
Fjord, but at that time known as Vestfold. 

His father was Halfdan Hvitbein (the white leg), who 
came of the mythical race of the Ynglinger, said to have 
been descended from the goddess Freya. This race came 
from Sweden and settled in that part of Norway before 
mentioned. Halfdan Hvitbein was a prudent chief, and 
encouraged commerce and agriculture in his dominions. 
Halfdan the Black increased his father's possessions to a 
considerable extent in a northern direction, and was the 
originator of the famous Eidsiva law, which was, for many 
generations, the law for that part of Norway, as the Frosta 
law was for Tr0ndelagen. This collection of laws derived 
its name from having been promulgated at the Thing held 
at Eidsvold, a spot close to the southern end of the great 
Mi0sen lake, and where the present constitution of Norway 
was drawn up in 1814. 

In 860, Halfdan was returning from a feast at Hadeland 
in the spring of the year, and when crossing the Eands 
Fjord at K0kenvik, the ice, which was then beginning to 


thaw, gave way under the royal sledge. His retainers, rushing 
to his rescue, only made matters worse, and the king and 
his immediate followers were drowned. His death was the 
cause of much grief to his people, who had enjoyed under 
his rule a time of great prosperity, and a succession of good 
harvests, a manifest proof of the favour of the gods. In 
order to secure a continuance of these benefits, they decided 
to divide his body into four portions, and to bury them in 
different parts of his dominions. 

Halfdan left behind him an only son, named Harald, 
then a child of only ten years of age. His mother was 
Eagnhild, a wise and prudent woman, and granddaughter 
of Harald Klak, King of Jutland. Before her son's birth 
she dreamt that she was holding a thorn in her hand, 
which grew to be a great tree which struck its roots deep 
down into the earth, and the top of which reached to 
heaven. It had wide-spreading branches, which covered 
the whole of Norway and the countries around it. The 
lower part of the tree was red as blood, and the branches 
above were white as snow. 

The child whose future greatness was thus foreshadowed 
by the dream was the far-famed Harald Haarfagre, the 
founder of the kingdom of Norway, and progenitor of a 
race of kings which, with a few brief interruptions, ruled 
over Norway for close upon four hundred years. 

The early days of Harald were passed under the wise 
guidance and direction of his uncle Guthorm, who skilfully 
piloted the youthful monarch through the various dangers 
to which he was exposed, and reduced to submission many 
of the neighbouring petty kings. 

When Harald grew to manhood he sought as his wife 
the beautiful Gyda, daughter of King Erik of Hordaland. 
She declined his advances, and declared she would marry 
none of these petty kings. She told the king's messengers 
to carry back to him her final decision : "I will not be his 


wife until, for my sake, he has conquered the whole of 
Norway." When Harald received this message he declared 
that Gyda had spoken well. " I call God, who made me, 
to witness," he said, "that never will I have my hair cut 
or combed until I have conquered the whole of Norway, 
with skat, duties, and lordships, or die in the attempt." 

Harald kept his word. Aided by his uncle and the 
famous Jarl, Ragnvald of M0re (the district now known as 
Nordm0re, Romsdal, and S0ndm0re), and his own great 
courage and strength, he rapidly conquered one petty 
kingdom after another, and defeating the jarls or kings 
who ruled over them, soon consolidated his kingdom. It 
was not, however, until after the great naval battle of 
Hafrsfjord, near Stavanger (872), that the opposition of 
the local rulers was crushed and Harald everywhere 
acknowledged as overlord of Norway. Immediately after 
the battle his long and matted hair was cut by Ragnvald 
Jarl, and his bright golden locks gained him the name of 
the Fair-haired, or Haarfagre. Soon after this he claimed 
the hand of the scornful beauty who had declined his suit 
in his earlier days. 

When he had established his kingdom he quickly made 
his power everywhere felt; lawlessness of all kinds was 
repressed with a stern hand, and the poor and the oppressed 
looked up to the king with gratitude, and were ready to 
defend him against all comers. 

Harald, however, decided to introduce changes which 
were distasteful to both the B0nder and the Jarls, and the 
enforcement of which led to very important results for other 
nations besides his own. The land of Norway, as we have 
seen, was held by what was called Odel tenure ; in other 
words, the owners were free from payment of skat, and 
were only obliged, when called upon, to follow their leaders 
in the defence of the land from the attacks of enemies. 

The king wished them to hold their land as fiefs from 


the crown, and this naturally provoked much hostility. 
Over each fylke, or group of fylker, the king appointed a 
jarl, and extorted from the unwilling people the payment 
of skat, or tribute. He also further compelled the chief 
men in the districts to take service under him, and become 
a part of his immediate following. 

Changes of this nature were not likely to be quietly 
acquiesced in by a people so independent as the hardy 
Norwegian B0nder, but the power of the king was too 
great to admit of successful resistance, and the alternative 
lay between submission to the royal authority or migration. 
Many of the chiefs and principal men chose the latter. 
They took ship and left their native land, and established 
themselves in the Shetlands, Orkneys, and Hebrides. 
Others went further and, after various raids, founded a 
kingdom in Dublin, and settlements in various places on 
the Irish coast as well as the Isle of Man. They also 
established themselves on the Fseroe Islands, where pre- 
viously Irish monks had made a home for themselves. The 
most important settlement, however, was made in Iceland, 
where an independent state was founded, which in later 
years became famous for its learning and literature, and 
from whence the colonization of Greenland and part of the 
coast of North America was carried out. 

Another of Harald Haarfagre's reforms led to results 
which may be said to have permanently affected the 
history of Europe. It was customary for those who fitted 
out Viking expeditions to levy enforced contributions in 
money and kind from the people along the coast ; these 
extortions were known as strandhug. Harald, with the 
intention of protecting his people, sternly forbade the prac- 
tice, and decreed outlawry as the punishment for a breach 
of his law. A notable offender was soon forthcoming. 
Eagnvald Jarl, the king's greatest supporter, and the 
champion of his early days, had a son named Eolf, who, 


from his great size and weight, and because none of the 
small Norwegian horses or ponies could carry him, received 
the surname of the Ganger, or walker. This man was 
one of the boldest spirits in the Viking days, and on one 
occasion, when coming home from an expedition, he allowed 
his followers to make a raid on the cattle and goods of 
the farmers in Viken. A weaker king might have hesi- 
tated to enforce the law against the son of his old friend. 
But Harald did not hesitate. The law must be obeyed ; 
and Kolf the Ganger was banished from Norway. He went 
to what was then known as Neustria, and extorted the 
concession of a " Danelag " from Charles III. A century 
and a half later his descendant, William Duke of Normandy, 
sat on the throne of England. Had strandhug not been 
illegal, or had a weaker monarch than Harald Haarfagre 
ruled over Norway, how different might have been the 
history and destiny of England ! 

Harald had a numerous family by his different wives, 
and towards the end of his long reign he adopted the very 
unwise expedient of dividing his kingdom among them, 
but leaving his eldest and favourite son Erik, who was sur- 
named Blod0kse (Bloodaxe), from his prowess in war, as over- 
lord of the various smaller kingdoms. Such an arrangement 
led to its natural results. Erik determined to overthrow 
the power of his brothers, and caused Bj0rn Farmand 
(the Merchant), who ruled over the district about T0nsberg, 
to be treacherously murdered. He proceeded to attack 
Half dan, who was king in Tr0ndelagen, but the latter was 
warned in time, and collecting men and ships, made so good 
a defence that Erik was forced to go to his father for pro- 
tection. After this a truce was arranged by friends on 
both sides, and thus for a time things resumed a more 
peaceful condition. 

In 921, Harald in his old age, had a son by a mistress 
named Thora of Moster, who, from her great height, was 


known as Moster stang, or pole. This son was named 
Haakon, and his appearance on the scene was naturally- 
displeasing to the other sons of the king, who had grown 
to man's estate, and were to divide the kingdom between 
them. Harald saw the danger to which the boy's life 
would be exposed if he allowed him to remain in Norway, 
so he sent him to England, while still a very little child, to 
the court of Athelstan, where he remained until his father's 
death. In England the child was baptized and brought up 
as a Christian, and afterwards was the means of first 
bringing Christianity into Norway. 

In 930, at the age of eighty, the old King decided to 
surrender all his authority into the hands of Erik, and to 
carry into force the arrangement which he had made before. 
Three years afterwards he died at his residence at Hauge, 
close to the present town of Haugesund, a little to the north 
of Stavanger. Where he died, there he was buried. On a 
mound overlooking the sea, and swept by the winds of the 
Northern Ocean, the greatest man that Norway had yet seen 
was laid to rest. On the top of the mound which was heaped 
over the body of the great warrior and ruler, the usual 
bautasten, or memorial stone, was erected ; and in after days, 
when his descendants sailed along the coast in their war ships 
to battle against foreign enemies or rebellious subjects, they 
saw it from afar, and remembered the man who had welded 
into one the divided kingdoms of Norway, and made it for 
the first time one of the nations of Europe. In days of 
anarchy and oppression, when Danish or other races sought 
for supremacy over Norway, men turned to the descendants 
of Harald the Fair-haired, thinking that of his line there 
must ever be a ruler and a chief, who would bring back to 
them again, the days when justice to all would be neither 
" sold, delayed, or denied," and when Norway would be 
united under its own king. 

During the long reign of Harald, Norway remained 


altogether pagan. The king himself seems to have had 
but little faith in the old gods, though he conformed to 
all the usages connected with the heathen sacrifices at the 
three great feasts of the year in January, April, and 
October. He had doubtless heard and known of the 
Christian faith from his intercourse with England and 
Denmark ; but he seems, if the Sagas are to be trusted, 
to have had a comparatively simple and characteristic 
creed : " He believed in the God who was the strongest 
and had created all things and ruled all things." 


The Religious Results of Viking Cruises Northmen in the British 
Isles Enforced Baptism Half Christianity The Missions from 
Hamburg and Bremen Ansgar's Life and Work. 

IN order to understand the way in which the heathen 
Norwegians first learned of the Christian faith, it is necessary 
to retrace our steps. It was in the last quarter of the 
eighth century, or about eighty or ninety years before the 
accession of Harald Haarfagre, that the Viking expeditions 
began, which, for nearly three hundred years, made the 
Northmen the terror of North-Western Europe, and of 
certain districts in the Mediterranean as well. The adven- 
turous chiefs from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark set forth 
in their long ships, each rowed by from twenty to forty 
men, and passing quickly over the waters of the North Sea, 
began to harry the coasts of England, Scotland, Ireland, and 
Northern France. 

Readers of English history are familiar with the entry in 
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 787, which tells 
of the first appearance of these dreaded foes ; and we know 
the way in which, from being at first mere marauding expedi- 
tions, they were continued unti] settlements and kingdoms 
were established in the north-east of England, the Ork- 
neys and Shetlands, Dublin, and the Isle of Man. We are, 
however, not concerned so much with the political as the 
religious results of these expeditions, for they were the 
means by which, as far as we can learn, the heathen 
Norwegians were first brought in contact with Christianity. 

In England and Ireland they came to countries where, 
C.S.N. c 


especially in the latter, the Christian faith had for some 
centuries entirely possessed the land, and had to a con- 
siderable extent tamed the wilder passions of the Saxon 
and Keltic races. When the warriors came ashore from 
their ships the churches and monasteries naturally offered 
a tempting prey on account of their unprotected state, and 
the Northmen quickly availed themselves of the treasure 
which they found there. They also undoubtedly learned of 
the Christian faith from the captives they had taken, and 
from seeing something, as they often did, during more 
peaceful visits, of the stately worship and ritual of the 
Church, which was not without its influence on the fierce 

The tenets of Christianity, however, did not naturally 
commend themselves to those who placed fighting in the 
very forefront of the duty of man, and to whom the clash 
of arms and the carnage of the battle would appeal more 
forcibly than the most stately service of the Church, with 
all the accessories of music and banners. 

In places where the invaders settled for the winter, 
instead of returning back, or where, for one or another 
cause, they were detained, there were not wanting faithful 
priests, who, taking their lives in their hands, tried to win 
the fierce Vikings to the faith of Christ, at least, so far as 
to consent to be baptized, or if they would not do that, to 
allow themselves to be what was called primsigne (prima 
signatio), signed with the cross, a sort of half-way house to 

In these efforts they were not infrequently successful, 
but it must be borne in mind that compliance with the 
entreaties of the priests and others, did not at all necessarily 
imply the acceptance of a real faith in Christianity. On 
the contrary, we know that when the Viking marauders 
found themselves in a position from which they could not 
well extricate themselves, and were surrounded by their 


enemies, it was not at all uncommon for the chief and his 
followers to allow themselves to be baptized en masse, as it 
usually offered a way of escape, and further enriched them 
with presents of handsome baptismal robes. Indeed, it 
appears an undoubted fact that it was not an unknown 
thing for Viking chiefs and their followers to be baptized 
several times over in different countries or places. 

It is, of course, true that there were genuine conversions 
to Christianity among the Norwegians, but many of the 
earliest baptisms were of the nature described. 

When, however, after some years the Norwegians and 
Northmen settled themselves in districts they had con- 
quered, then real progress was made in the propagation 
of the faith, and they became, as in Dublin, in Cumbria, and 
the Danelag, as faithful and earnest Christians as those 
who had taught them the faith. 

This, however, was outside the Norwegian kingdom. 
In Norway it only helped to break down the ancient faith 
in the gods. Many of the great men, like King Harald 
Haarfagre, were indifferent to the old religion, and only 
believed in the God who was the strongest and ruled all. 

Some of the Vikings followed a middle course, like that 
adopted by the colonists whom the kings of Assyria 
placed in the cities of Samaria. They were baptized and 
they took Christ into their worship. The Sagas tell us of 
one of these, Helge the Thin, of Iceland, who had thus 
been converted. When he was ashore on his farm he 
worshipped Christ, but when he was at sea, or in any 
position of danger, he offered his prayers and sacrifices to 

It may be wondered why it was that Christianity r\\fl_ 

not first come tojjorjya.y from the Soutlyinstead of from 

Jhe British jsles.; but the explanation is not a difficult one. 

The latter countries had already been christianized, while 

between Norway and the Christianity of the revived Western 


Empire there was still a solid mass of heathenism. The 
Kaiser, Karl the Great, after reducing the Saxons to 
submission, was anxious to bring the Northern nations to 
Christianity, partly from religious and partly from political 
motives, so that he might be made more secure from attack. 
Nothing, however, seems to have been done in his day, but 
under Ludvig the Pious an attempt was made to evange- 
lize the Danes, and he appealed to Ebbo, the Archbishop 
of Eheims, to send a missionary to them. The Pope 
(Paschal I.) also wrote a letter commending the work. 
Such, however, was the terror which spread over the 
north-west of Europe at the ravages of the Vikings, that 
at first no one was found to volunteer, until at last the 
famous Ansgar, "the Apostle of the North," a monk of 
Corvei, near Amiens, undertook the task. 

He began his work in Holstein, accompanied by his 
faithful friend Autbert. After two years' labours he was 
obliged to flee to the court of the Emperor, and the work 
appeared to have failed. Just at that time, however, 
Bj0rn, the King of Sweden, sent a messenger to the Kaiser 
asking for a Christian teacher, and Ansgar was sent in 830. 
After various adventures and dangers, Ansgar reached Birk 
(Sigtuna), and laboured with much success for a year and 
a half, when he returned with a letter to the Kaiser. 
Ludvig saw the importance of establishing an episcopal 
see near to the mission field, and selected Hamburg as 
the spot, and in 834 Ansgar was consecrated as Arch- 
bishop by the Archbishop of Metz and several other 
prelates. Shortly afterwards Gautbert was consecrated 
Bishop of Sweden. 

Thus the work progressed, but troubles were yet to come. 
In 845 the heathen King Erik, of Jylland, in Denmark, 
attacked Hamburg and burned the cathedral, library, and 
monastery to the ground, and Ansgar escaped only with 
his life. The Swedes at the same time attacked Gautbert 


and destroyed his mission. Ludvig the Pious was now 
dead, and his sons divided the Empire, Ludvig the German 
having the portion which most concerned Ansgar. 

At this time the bishopric of Bremen was vacant, and 
Ludvig decided to transfer the archiepiscopal see to that 
town in 849, and it was made the metropolitan see for the 
Northern nations, and independent of Koln, in which it 
was formerly situated. 

The work again prospered. King Erik, the destroyer of 
Hamburg, became favourable to Christianity, and granted 
a place for a church in Slesvig, where, in 850, the first 
church in Denmark was erected, and dedicated to the 
Blessed Virgin. In 856 Ansgar's active life ended at the 
comparatively early age of sixty-four. 

Thus it happened that Christianity had gained a hold in 
Sweden and Denmark a considerable time before it first 
appeared in Norway ; but it is strange that there was 
practically no attempt made to christianize Norway from 
either Denmark or Sweden. To the British Isles, to 
England especially, the honour of having brought the 
faith of Christ to Norway is almost entirely due, and the 
Church in Norway was a daughter of the Anglo-Saxon 

A notice of the foundation of the metropolitan see of 
Bremen is necessary here, as it was for a considerable 
period, the province in which the Norwegian Church was 
situated ; and to the famous Chronicle of Adam of Bremen 
we are indebted for many interesting references to early 
Christianity in Norway. 



Erik and Gunhild's unpopularity Coming of Haakon Erik driven 
out Haakon a Christian His tentative Efforts on behalf of the 
Faith Formal Attempt at the Frosta Thing Its Failure Haakon's 
Lapse, his Death, and Burial. 

ON the death of Harald Haarfagre, in 933, his eldest son, 
Erik Blod0kse, became overlord of Norway, in accordance 
with the arrangement made by his father. He was a cruel 
and overbearing man, but of undoubted courage in battle, 
as his surname implies. He was never popular with the 
people, and the murder of his brother Bj0rn made it 
plain that he intended, when he had the opportunity, to 
murder or drive away his other brothers from the small 
kingdoms their father had allotted to them, and to become, 
as his father had been before him, the sole king in the land. 

The unpopularity of Erik was increased tenfold by reason 
of his queen Gunhild, whom he had married several years 
before. She was a native of Haalogaland and renowned 
for her beauty, and Erik had met her in one of his northern 
journeys. In addition to her beauty, she is said to have 
possessed the very doubtful recommendation of a knowledge 
of sorcery, which she had learned from the Finns of the 
North, and this did not tend to increase her popularity. 
There can be no doubt whatever, that she was a wicked 
and ambitious woman, who, playing the part of a Northern 
Jezebel in the royal court, proved the king's evil genius. 

The tyrannical rule of Erik, and the universal hatred 
with which his wife was regarded, provoked discontent on 


all sides, and in little more than a year he was driven 
from the land. 

When King Harald Haarfagre died, there was living at 
the court of Atheist an his youngest son Haakon, who, as 
we have seen, had been dispatched thither for safety by 
the old king. During his residence in England he had 
been baptized and brought up in the Christian faith. 
When his father died, in 933, he was a lad of about 
fourteen, but tall and handsome, and bearing a very striking 
resemblance to his fair-haired father. When tidings of 
Harald's death reached England, Athelstan at once deter- 
mined to supply his foster-son with the equipment necessary 
to enable him to proceed to Norway and claim his share 
in his father's kingdom. Among the many gifts bestowed 
by the king upon the young prince, we read of a magni- 
ficent sword, with a hilt of gold and a blade of such 
strength and temper, that it would cleave a millstone ; 
from this fact it was given the name of Kvernbit (the 
quern cutter), and it never failed Haakon in any battle 
during the whole of his long and adventurous career. 
With ships and men supplied by the English king, the 
young chief set sail for his native land and proceeded at 
once to Tr0ndelagen, to the great chief Sigurd Jarl of 
Hlade, a spot close to the present city of Trondhjem, 
which at that time was not yet in existence. 

The powerful jarl at once espoused the cause of Haakon, 
from whom he received the promise of greatly extended 
power, when he obtained the kingdom. The first step to 
be taken was to summon the Thing to meet, which Sigurd 
lost no time in doing. When the b0nder were assembled, 
Sigurd addressed them on Haakon 's behalf, and presented 
the young prince to them. When he began to speak the 
older men at once recognized him as a true son of Haar- 
fagre, and cried out with joy that it was the old monarch 
who had become young once more. 


Haakon, doubtless under the wise guidance of Sigurd, 
promised the people that if they helped him to gain the 
kingdom, he would restore the much-prized Odel rights, of 
which they had been deprived by his father, whose action 
in this respect had been most unpopular among the b0nder, 
and which only the strong hand of Harald had been able 
to enforce. 

The promise of this great concession settled the matter, 
with one accord the people at the Thing took him as king. 
With the help of Sigurd Jarl the conflict did not last long ; 
the hatred of King Erik, and especially of Queen Gunhild, 
was so intense that few were found to defend his cause, and 
in little more than a year, in 935, Erik and Gunhild were 
driven from Norway, and took refuge at first in Denmark. 
From thence Erik passed into England, and received the 
kingdom of Northumbria from Athelstan, and afterwards 
(in the reign of Edmund) fell in the battle of Stainmoor, 
the exact date of which is uncertain, but it was probably 
fought between 950 and 954.* 

When Haakon's authority as overlord of Norway was 
everywhere accepted, and he had made the people happy 
and contented by the removal of their grievances, he felt 
the time had come to attempt the formal introduction of 
Christianity into Norway, by securing its recognition at the 

In many ways it was a favourable moment. The Viking 
expeditions had made Christianity known to many, and if 
they were not prepared to accept the new faith, at any rate 
their belief in the old gods of their forefathers was shaken, 
and the great personal popularity of the king was much in 
his favour. It is true that his chief supporter, the great 
Jarl of Hlade, was still a zealous heathen, but his loyalty 
to his young monarch was undoubted, and in the subsequent 

* " The Battle of Stainmoor," by W. G. Collingwood, in the Cumber- 
land and Westmoreland Antiquarian Society's " Transactions," Vol. II. 


struggles he saved him in many moments of great personal 

It seems most reasonable to believe that amongst the 
retinue with which his English foster-father had supplied 
him, there would probably have been found at least one 
priest, who would carry on the religious instruction of the 
young prince, and also that a considerable number, if not all, 
of his English supporters were Christians. When Haakon's 
power was established, very likely many of these returned 
to England, and the king was left with but a few Christians 
in his immediate following. The personal influence of 
Haakon seems to have induced a few of his heathen 
subjects to be baptized, and to abandon the old sacrifices. 

When this was done Haakon took a more decisive step. 
He sent a message to England to ask that a bishop and 
priests should be sent out to Norway to aid him in his work. 

We have no certain means of knowing whether a bishop 
responded to this invitation, but there is a list given by 
William of Malmesbury in " De Antiquitate Glastoniensis 
Ecclesise," of bishops who had been monks of that famous 
foundation; amongst them we find the name of " Sigefridus 
Norwegensis Episcopus." There are many conflicting 
opinions as to the identity of this man with Haakon's 
helper. Three other bishops have been claimed as William's 
"Norwegensis Episcopus." * 

It is plainly stated by Snorre that Haakon had churches 
built, and placed priests to minister in them, and these 
churches were erected in the M0re and Romsdal districts 
where Haakon chiefly resided. They were probably only 
wooden churches, and they quickly perished after the failure 
of Haakon to procure the recognition of Christianity. The 
bishop and priests were either murdered or fled back again to 

At the commencement of his reign Haakon had not taken 

* See Appendix I. 


any official part in the usual sacrifices to the gods, but this 
did not excite suspicion because it was understood that being 
only a lad he wished those duties to be performed by 
deputy, which was accordingly done. Haakon, however, 
did nothing rashly, and wisely decided not to force 
Christianity on his people all at once. Among various 
tentative measures he secured (apparently without opposi- 
tion) the transference of the great Julefest, held early in 
January, to the time of the Christian festival of Christmas, 
and made its duration the same. 

Thus the years passed by, and Haakon waited for his 
opportunity. In or about the year 950, after having 
reigned for sixteen years, and having had for some time the 
government in his own hands, he felt he was strong enough 
to make the attempt. His first step was to bring the 
question before the local Things in M0re and Komsdal 
districts, in which he frequently resided, and where he 
felt his personal influence would be considerable. These 
assemblies, however, seeing the importance of the question, 
excused themselves on the ground that it lay beyond their 
powers, and should be considered by the great Frosta Thing 
to whose laws they were subject. To this Haakon agreed, 
and prepared to bring the matter before the great assembly 
of the North. The Frosta Thing was usually held at mid- 
summer, when the days were longest, and night in those 
regions practically unknown. From all the eight fylker of 
Tr0ndelagen the people flocked to the yearly meeting, and 
the gathering on this occasion was unusually large. The 
Thing having been opened with the usual formalities, King 
Haakon rose and addressed the people. The critical moment 
so long looked forward to by the king, had now come, and 
the first formal attempt to procure the recognition of 
Christianity in Norway was now to be made. 

Haakon began with an earnest appeal to the people to 
embrace the faith in which he had been brought up, to 


permit themselves to be baptized, to believe in the one God 
and His Son Jesus Christ. The people listened in silence. 
Had the king stopped there, it is possible he might have 
met with, at any rate, a partial success; but when he 
proceeded to tell them they must not work on Sundays, 
and that, further, they must be prepared to follow the 
Christian usage and fast on Fridays, then the cries of 
dissent broke out. The idea of abstinence from food was 
not at all an acceptable one to the Northmen, and to 
abstain from work on Sundays might often mean the 
partial loss of the hay harvest, or failure in securing a 
good haul of fish. Haakon, however, was very plain in 
setting before them all that the acceptance of Christianity 
would entail. 

When the king had ended, there stood up in the council 
one Asbj0rn of Medalhus, a wealthy bonde from a place 
now called Melhus in Guldal, near Trondhjem. He told 
the king that the people willingly acknowledged the 
benefits which had come to them from his wise and kindly 
rule, especially in the restoration to them of their Odel 
rights and privileges. But he declared in no uncertain 
tones that they would not give up the faith of their fathers, 
and accept the thraldom which it seemed the king wished 
to force upon them. If he insisted on this, then they 
would choose another king, but they had no desire to 
quarrel with him so long as they were left to worship the 
gods of their forefathers. This speech was received with 
shouts of applause by the people, and it was at once 
apparent that the assembly was entirely hostile to Haakon's 
proposed innovations. 

Then Sigurd Jarl stood up in defence of the young 
monarch. He hastened to explain to the people that they 
were under a mistake in supposing that Haakon wished to 
force his views on them, or to cause any break in the 
friendship which existed between them. With this he 


quieted the people, and the proceedings terminated, the 
victory remaining with the heathen party. 

Having thus thwarted the king, the believers in the old 
gods were determined to press home their advantage, and 
an opportunity for this soon presented itself. At the usual 
festival held in October, when the winter sacrifices were 
offered, the Odin's mindebceger (the horn of beer to be 
drunk to Odin) was handed to the king. Before drinking 
it he made the sign of the cross over it. At this the 
watchful heathen protested, but the wily Jarl Sigurd 
explained that the king, believing in his own strength, 
dedicated the horn to Thor instead of Odin, by making 
over it the sign of Mj0lnir (Thor's hammer), and so the 
incident passed. 

The crisis, however, soon came. At the Julefest the 
heathen party resolved there should be no more tem- 
porizing. They made it clear to the king that either he 
must join in the heathen ceremonies or forfeit his crown. 
Sigurd Jarl saw the danger, and with difficulty persuaded 
Haakon to give way. The feast was held, and the king 
ate some of the horse-flesh and drank of all the necessary 
horns of beer to the gods, this time without making the 
sign of the cross, and thus openly sealed his adherence to 
the Asa faith. But he left the feast heavy and displeased, 
and intending to come back with a powerful force and 
revenge himself on the b0nder, but for the time the triumph 
of Odin and Thor over " the White Christ " was complete. 

It is easy for us to condemn Haakon for his apostacy, 
but we must remember the position in which he was 
placed. Cut off from the support of those in England 
among whom he had been brought up, surrounded by 
heathen, many of whom he had good cause to love, and 
with the certainty of losing his kingdom, if not his life, if 
he refused to join in the idol feasts, his kind-heartedness 
and good-nature, as well as the pressure of circumstances, 


all combined to make him yield an outward compliance 
with the demands of the heathen party. All through the 
rest of his life he seems to have felt deeply his abandon- 
ment of the faith, and his failure to spread it in his 
kingdom. He was doubtless sincere in his intention to 
make another effort on behalf of Christianity when a con- 
venient opportunity presented itself, but the " convenient 

season" never came. 

After these events, fresh trouble was in store for Haakon 
and his kingdom. His brother, Erik Bloodaxe of North- 
umberland, was slain in battle, and his sons determined to 
attempt to regain the kingdom from which their father had 
been driven by Haakon. Queen Gunhild went with them 
to Denmark, where the king, Harald Gormss0n, was ready 
to give them assistance. They made several descents upon 
Norway, and Haakon was obliged to summon to his aid all 
his available forces, and he dared not weaken his strength 
by any question of religion. 

The attacks of Gunhild's sons were repulsed with great 
loss to them, but they only retired to Denmark for fresh 
help, and appeared again and again on the coast. This 
state of things lasted till the close of Haakon's life. 

In 960 the king was paying a visit at Fitjar, on the 
large island of Stord, in S0ndhordland, off the entrance to 
the great Hardanger Fjord. While there, with but a small 
force, he was surprised by the fleet of Harald Graafell, the 
eldest of Erik's sons. The enemy were in overwhelming 
force, but Haakon and his men disdained to seek safety in 
flight. A fierce battle ensued, in which, after a desperate 
struggle, Harald Graafell's forces were defeated and forced 
to fly. Just at the very end of the battle Haakon was 
mortally wounded by an arrow. Before his death, having 
no son, he named his nephew Harald as his successor. 
Then, we are told, the sorrow for his abandonment of the 
faith filled the king's mind. " If life is granted to me," 


he said to his followers, " i will betake myself to a land of 
Christian men, and do penance and atone for my sin 
against God, but if I die here in heathenism, then bury me 
as you wish yourselves." 

His men, with tears, told him they would carry his body 
over to England, and give it Christian burial. But the 
dying king shook his head. " I am not worthy of it/' he 
said. " I have lived as a heathen, and, therefore, as a 
heathen should I be buried." 

As a heathen he was laid to rest. He was buried on his 
estate at Sseheim, in Nordhordland. All men mourned for 
him, friends and foes alike, and "men said such a good 
king would never come to Norway again/' The love and 
veneration of his people marked him out among the kings 
as Haakon the Good. 



Norway under Gunhild's Sons Graafell murdered in Denmark 
Haakon Jarl rules Norway under Harald Blaatand of Denmark 
Haakon Jarl's enforced Baptism Danish Missionaries in Viken 
Adam of Bremen's Testimony The Results of this Work 
Norwegian Church a Daughter of the English Church Haakon 
Jarl and the Jomsvikings The Battle at Livaag Haakon's Evil 
Deeds and the Coming Deliverer. 

THE death of Haakon the Good was followed by a period 
of anarchy and struggles with foreign foes, which lasted 
for some thirty -five years, and caused much suffering and 
want in the land. 

Haakon, on his deathbed, had expressed the wish that 
his nephew Harald, surnamed Graafell, should succeed 
him. He was the eldest of the five sons of Erik Blod0kse, 
and with them he shared the portions of Norway ruled 
over by Haakon, namely, the northern and north-western 
divisions, for it must be remembered that the grandsons 
of Harald Haarfagre held the petty kingdoms in Viken 
(the country around the Christiania Fjord), which he had 
bestowed on their fathers. 

Harald Graafell, however, was the overlord of the 
portions where his brothers ruled. As they were mainly 
guided by the universally detested Gunhild, they soon 
became very unpopular. Following the example of their 
father, they endeavoured to extend their authority by the 
treacherous murder of King Trygve,* the son of Olaf, and 

* The father of the great Olaf Trygvess0n, who at the time of this 
murder was not yet born, see p. 40. 


Gudr0d, the son of their father's victim, Bj0rn, both kings 
in Viken. Sigurd Jarl was another obstacle in their way, 
and he, too, was slain. The people of Tr0ndelagen imme- 
diately supported his son, Haakon Jarl, and Gunhild's sons 
soon found to their cost what a mistake they had made in, 
killing his father. At first, however, they were partially 
successful, and Haakon Jarl was obliged to take refuge 
with Harald Blaatand (blue tooth), king of Denmark. 

Harald Graafell and his brothers were nominal Chris- 
tians, as they had been baptized when in England, and in 
Norway during their time the ancient heathen system was 
still further weakened. The brothers do not seem to have 
attempted to obtain any official recognition of Christianity 
from the Things, as Haakon did indeed, their zeal for the 
propagation of the faith was of a very negative character, 
and manifested itself chiefly in the destruction and plunder 
of the heathen temples wherever they went, and enriching 
themselves and their followers with the spoils. No attempt 
was made to force Christianity on the people, nor were, as 
far as we can see, any churches erected or rebuilt in any 
part of Norway. Men were free to worship as they thought 
fit, and the example of the sons of Gunhild was not likely 
to prepossess the heathen in favour of the faith which they 
nominally professed. These were years of bad harvests, 
and distress was everywhere prevalent; the fish forsook 
the shores, and famine and sickness stalked through the 
land. In these calamities the people saw the wrath of the 
gods whose temples had been destroyed, and who were not 
propitiated with sacrifices. Universal discontent prevailed. 

About the year 970 (the exact date is doubtful) Harald 
Graafell was treacherously induced to visit Denmark, and 
when there was attacked and slain. This was the oppor- 
tunity which Harald Blaatand was looking for to assert his 
supremacy over Norway. He at once set sail with a 
powerful fleet to Tr0ndelagen ; and, as there was no one to 


oppose Mm (two of Harald Graafell's brothers were already 
dead, and Gunhild and the others fled to the Orkneys), he 
had no difficulty in having himself acknowledged as king. 
Haakon Jar] was left as governor over the north and 
westemfylker, and the district of Viken was under Harald's 
immediate care. Haakon was, as a vassal, bound to assist 
his overlord Harald whenever called upon. 

Now came, in the region ruled over by Haakon, a veritable 
heathen reaction. The jarl was a devout adherent of the 
ancient faith, and set to work immediately to rebuild the 
temples and to celebrate once more the heathen festivals 
at the appointed seasons. The first year of Haakon's rule 
was signalized by the return of the herrings to the coast, 
which they had forsaken, and a prosperous harvest ; so the 
people recognized in this that the anger of the gods was 
appeased and the evil averted from the land. 

It was not long before Harald Blaatand had to summon 
his vassal Haakon to his aid. The young Kaiser Otto II., 
who had succeeded his father in 973, invaded Denmark in 
975, in order to bring that kingdom more completely into 
subjection (as Harald had designs of rejecting the suzerainty 
which Otto I. had imposed on him), and also for the purpose 
of forcibly advancing Christianity in Denmark. Consider- 
able progress had been made, as we have seen, under 
Ansgar, the Archbishop of Bremen, and a church had been 
erected at Slesvig ; but the king still remained a heathen. 

In obedience to Harald's call, Haakon Jarl raised an 
army and fleet, and came to the aid of his overlord. 
After a short resistance, however, Harald was defeated, and 
the Kaiser offered him terms of peace on condition that he 
should be baptized. We are told that the holy Bishop 
Poppo preached to the king and his army, and the result 
was that both Harald and all his forces were baptized. 

The Danish king, having thus accepted Christianity, 
decided that his vassal must do the same, and sent for 

C.S.N. D 


Haakon,who had taken refuge in his ships, and obliged him 
also to be baptized. Then, having supplied him "with priests 
and other learned men," he dispatched him to Norway. 

Whatever may have been the sincerity of Harald in 
embracing Christianity, Haakon soon made it clear that he 
still remained a heathen. He set sail, and at the first 
possible opportunity put his ecclesiastics ashore and harried 
the coast of Sweden until he came to Norway, and, setting 
Harald at defiance, went overland to Tr0ndelagen. In 
revenge for this, the Danish king invaded the west coast of 
Norway and ravaged the country with fire and sword ; but 
when Haakon had collected his fleet and came to resist 
the attack, Harald sailed back again into Denmark. 

It is necessary at this point to advert to the missionary 
efforts which were made in the district of Viken, at this time 
directly subject to the Danish Crown. Harald, after his 
conversion to the faith under the persuasive eloquence and 
miracles of Bishop Poppo, did all in his power to promote 
the christianizing of his heathen subjects both in Denmark 
and Norway. For some details of this we are indebted 
to the "Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesise Pontificum " of 
Adam of Bremen, a chronicle of great value in connection 
with the early history of Christianity in the North ; but, 
being naturally a very zealous supporter of the see of 
Bremen, it is probable that he may have been inclined to 
estimate more highly than it deserved, the work of the 
missionaries sent from Bremen to Norway; and possibly, 
also, to look with a not altogether impartial eye on the 
English Church's missionaries, to whose efforts mainly, as we 
shall see, the spread of the faith in Norway is due. 

Adam mentions that Liafdag, who in 948 was conse- 
crated to the see of Eibe, in Denmark, was the most famous 
among the early bishops and renowned for his miracles, and 
that he had preached " beyond the sea, that is in Sweden 
and Norway." 


Snorre mentions that Harald, after his conversion, sent, 
amongst other men, " two jarls to Norway, who were to 
preach Christianity ; which was also done in Viken, where 
King Harald's power prevailed." There they baptized 
many men, but after Harald's death they relapsed. Snorre 
does not give us the names of these "jarls," but in the 
Saga of the Jomsvikings they are mentioned under the 
very uncouth names of Urguthrj0tr and Brimiskjarr. Who 
these "jarls " were we have no means of knowing. It 
seems doubtful if they were jarls at all. Some suppose 
that if jarls were sent, they had priests with them, who 
were subsequently credited with having been jarls. 

There seems no doubt whatever that there was, before 
Olaf Trygvess0n's day a certain amount of missionary 
work in Viken which was not altogether destitute of 
results, but that this was not a little magnified by the 
Bremen authorities later on, when the great work of the 
English bishops and priests, under the two Olafs, was 
made manifest. 

The scholiast of Adam says, speaking of the labours of 
Olaf Trygvess0n's bishop : " Though before him our 
missionaries, Liafdag, Poppo, and Odinkar, had preached 
to that nation. This can we say : our missionaries laboured, 
and the English entered into their labours. "* It is only 
fair to add that Adam himself takes a more liberal view 
when he says, with reference to the work of the two 
Churches : " The mother-Church of Hamburg bears no 
grudge if even foreigners have done good to her children, 
saying with the apostle :| ' Quidam prcedicant per invidiam 
et contentionem, quidam autem propter bonam voluntatem 
et caritatem. Quid enim f Dum omni modo sive per 
occasionem sive per veritatem Christus annuncietur, et 
in hoc gaudeo et gaudebo ' " (Phil. L, 16-18). 

* Adam, Scholiast, 142. 
t Adam II., c. 35. 



It would be altogether unfair to fail to recognize the 
work of the missionaries sent forth by the see of Bremen to 
evangelize the North. But it seems pretty clear that the 
result of their efforts in Viken (the only part of Norway 
where they claim to have laboured) were not of a very 
lasting character, and that no attempt was made to organize 
the Church there, on any stable foundation, as St. Olaf 
did in his work throughout Norway. The claim of 
Bremen to have founded what might be called a rival 
Church to that established by the English missionaries 
cannot, indeed, be seriously considered. The Christianity 
of Viken seems, openly at least, to have disappeared under 
the heathen rule of Haakon Jarl; and, later on, the 
severing of the connection with the Danish Crown, when 
the district was incorporated in Olaf Trygvess0n's kingdom, 
brought Yiken, like the rest of Norway, into the organiza- 
tion founded by the English missionaries ; and the efforts 
of those sent forth from the see of Bremen were confined, 
for a considerable time at least, to the two other Scandi- 
navian kingdoms. 

The question seems to be fairly summed up by Keyser 
in the following words : " The direct and indirect results 
of the efforts of the German-Bremen Church in Norway 
were confined to individual conversions, or attempts at 
conversion, in Viken, whilst they never succeeded in form- 
ing any special Church community. On the other hand, 
Christianity over the whole of Norway, both with respect 
to the permanent conversion of the people and ecclesias- 
tical organization, proceeded exclusively from England ; 
in other words, the Norwegian Church was wholly and 
completely a daughter of the English Church"* 

Harald Blaatand did not long survive his failure to 
coerce his rebellious vassal Haakon Jarl. His death was 
the result of a wound, received in a battle fought against 
* Keyser, Den Norske Kirkes ffistorie, Vol. L, p. 32. 


his son Svein Tjugeskjgeg (the forked beard), who had raised 
an insurrection against him. On his father's death, Svein 
was accepted as king of Denmark. The new king did not 
forget the fact that his father had been the overlord of 
Norway, and at once decided to take steps to bring 
Haakon to submission to his authority. For this purpose 
he called to his assistance the famous Jomsvikings. 

This very remarkable guild of fighting men lived, when 
ashore, in their stronghold at Jom, or Jumne, in Pomerania. 
They were the heathen prototypes of the military orders 
of later days, and lived under very strict rules and discip- 
line. No one over fifty years, or under eighteen, was 
admitted into their company, and women were strictly 
excluded from their fortress. Around it there grew up a 
town, with some considerable trade. The Jomsvikings 
were very zealous heathen, and made it a distinct con- 
dition that none should come to the town who intended 
to preach Christianity. Adam of Bremen, however, bears 
witness to the fact that with this exception "no more 
honest or kindly race could be found." The fierce courage 
and endurance of these Vikings made their assistance much 
sought for in local warfare. 

The chief of the Jomsvikings at this time was Sigvald 
Jarl, and to him Svein addressed himself. After the 
usual negotiations Sigvald undertook within three years 
to kill or to drive away from Norway, the rebellious 
Haakon Jarl. 

At the close of 978 the Jomsvikings set sail with a 
powerful fleet, and reached the neighbourhood of Eogaland 
at the time of the Julefest. Meanwhile Haakon had 
received tidings of the approach of these formidable foes, 
but nothing daunted he assembled a powerful fleet and 
determined to defend his land. The Jomsviking force 
sailed north, and, doubling the peninsula of Stadt, finally 
came to battle with Haakon in the bay of Livaag, on the 


island of Hareidland, which lies a little to the south of the 
present town of Aalesund. There ensued one of the most 
sanguinary battles ever fought in Norway. Haakon Jarl 
and his son Erik fought with dauntless courage, but were 
able to make little impression on the fierce Jomsvikings. 
As the fight went on it seemed as if victory must rest 
with the invaders. Then Haakon, in his extremity, 
adopted a desperate and horrible expedient, the truth of 
which there seems no reason to doubt, as we know such 
practices were found among the heathen Norsemen. 
Following the example of the king of Moab, he sought 
to propitiate the gods with a human sacrifice. Leaving 
his men to fight, he went hurriedly ashore, and there 
offered up his little seven-year-old son Erling as a sacrifice 
to the gods. Then followed a terrible storm, and the hail 
beat with violence in the faces of the Vikings, and at last 
they began to give way. Finally fortune declared itself 
for Haakon, and the redoubtable Sigvald Jarl was forced 
to fly with only twenty -five ships. 

Haakon was now free from attack from Denmark, and 
his authority was supreme over the north and west, and 
it seemed as if he would be able to establish his family as 
overlords of Norway as Harald Haarfagre had done. 
But after the great victory at Livaag, when his power was 
at its height, he became careless and secure, and soon his 
cruelties and lust displeased even his heathen subjects, and 
the land was filled with discontent. The forcible seizure 
of the beautiful wife of Orm Lyrgia, one of the most 
powerful of the b0nder in Tr0ndelagen, brought matters to 
a crisis. A deliverer of the race of the fair-haired Harald 
was found in Olaf Trygvess0n, the most striking and 
heroic character presented to us in the history of the 
introduction of Christianity into Norway. 



Olaf the Founder of the Church His Birth and Early Years His 
Baptism and Confirmation Haakon Jarl tries to lure him to 
Norway Olaf Sails from Dublin Lands at Moster Finds Insurrec- 
tion against Haakon Death of Haakon Olaf chosen King 
His Character Begins the Spread of the Faith in Yiken He 
Proceeds round the Coast St. Sunniva and Selje Olaf founds 
Nidaros Fails at Frosta Thing to procure Acceptance of Chris- 
tianity He works Craftily Destroys the Idols at Maeren Olaf in 
the North Olaf's Enemies in Denmark His Expedition to Yend- 
land The Battle of Svolder and Death of Olaf The Christianizing 
of Iceland. 

OLAF TRYGVESS0N may well be called the founder of 
the Norwegian Church, though the work of organization 
was carried out by the more widely-known Olaf the Saint. 
He was not, it is true, the first Christian king in the land, 
for Haakon the Good, and Harald Graafell, were both 
nominal Christians, and the former, before his lapse, had 
made a very sincere effort to induce his people to receive 
the faith. But he lacked what Olaf possessed, the burning 
zeal of a great missionary, albeit this zeal was at times 
evinced in a manner more suggestive of the followers of 
Mahomet than of Christ and also (what was of no small 
importance) the strong argument of fighting men and ships, 
without which, it must be confessed, Olaf s conversions to 
Christianity would but seldom have taken place. 

The early life of Olaf Trygvess0n, as recorded in the 
Sagas, is full of the strangest adventures, and it is difficult to 
determine how much of it is legendary. It is unnecessary 


for our purpose to follow all the incidents of his early 
days as set forth there ; it is enough to confine ourselves 
to the principal events about which there is not much 

Olaf Trygvess0n was, as his name indicates, the son of 
Trygve (the grandson of Harald Haarfagre), and one of 
the smaller kings who ruled in Viken. Trygve was, as 
we know, murdered by Gunhild's sons about the year 963. 
On her husband's death his wife, Astrid, fled for her life 
and took refuge on an island in the Eandsfjord, a large 
lake in Hadeland, accompanied by her faithful foster-father, 
Torolv Luseskjaeg. Soon after she gave birth to a son, 
who was named Olaf after his grandfather.* For some 
years Astrid and her child were pursued from place to 
place by the remorseless malignity of Queen Gunhild, and 
were often in extreme peril of their lives. Finding it 
unsafe to remain any longer in Norway, she eventually 
took refuge with her brother Sigurd, who had been for 
some time one of the principal men at the court of King 
Valdemar of Gardarike, a large district of Western Eussia, 
at that time in Scandinavian hands. 

Here Olaf remained until about his eighteenth year, when, 
in accordance with the practice of those times, he started 
on a Viking cruise with other adventurous spirits. He 
went to Yendland and Denmark, and soon collected a body 
of followers who acknowledged him as their chief. England, 
at this time under the feeble rule of Ethelred II., the 
Redeless, offered a very tempting field for Viking raids, and 
to that country and to the coasts of Scotland and Ireland 
Olaf and his followers accordingly went. He, in common 
with others, received from Ethelred considerable sums of 
money to abstain from plundering. After several years 
spent around the coasts of the British Isles, he came 

* The heathen Norsemen had a ceremony resembling baptism, in 
which water was poured upon the child when he was named. 


to the Scilly Isles, where, we are told, he was baptized by 
a holy man, probably a hermit, who foretold his future 
greatness, and instructed him in the Christian faith. He 
then went back to England, having made peace with 
Ethelred. This was in 994. Florence of Worcester tells 
us that this agreement was after some severe fighting, and 
adds a notice of another important event in Olaf's life. 
"-ZElfheah (St. Alphege), Bishop of Winchester, and the noble 
ealdorman Ethel ward, went to King Olaf by order of King 
Ethelred, and having given hostages, conducted him with 
honour to the royal vill of Andover, where the king was 
residing. The king treated him with great distinction, and, 
causing him to be confirmed by the bishop, adopted him as 
his son and made him a royal present. He on his part 
promised King Ethelred he would never again invade 
England, and afterwards returning to his fleet, sailed for his 
own kingdom at the beginning of summer and faithfully kept 
his promise." He did not, however, return immediately to 
Norway, for early the next year we find him in Dublin with 
his brother-in-law, Olaf Kvaran, who ruled over the kingdom 
the Northmen had founded there. 

It was riot likely that tidings of such a mighty warrior 
as Olaf had proved himself to be, would fail to come to the 
ears of Haakon Jarl, now in the height of his power, and 
remembering that he was the great-grandson of Harald 
Haarfagre, and therefore heir to the crown of Norway, the 
crafty jarl determined, if possible, to decoy him to his native 
land, and make away with him. For this purpose he 
accordingly dispatched an emissary, Thore Klakka, to 
Dublin in order to see if he could induce him to go to 
Norway. Thore was a very plausible man, and answered 
all Olaf's questions in a manner which gained him his 
confidence. He insinuated that as Haakon was disliked, 
the people would willingly welcome a descendant of 
Haarfagre as a deliverer. After a good many interviews 


he induced Olaf to make the attempt, which the young 
chief was nothing loth to do, and with five ships he set sail 
from Dublin accompanied by the traitorous Thore Klakka. 

Sailing north, Olaf paid a passing visit to the Orkneys, 
where he had the good fortune to surprise the jarl, Sigurd 
Lodvess0n, who, not expecting such a visitor, had only one 
ship with him. 

What followed was a typical example of the method 
which Olaf adopted in spreading the faith. He sent 
a courteous message to the jarl inviting him to come 
on board his ship. After conversing for some time on 
various topics and hospitably entertaining the jarl, Olaf 
explained to his guest that the time had now come for him 
to be baptized. It was only natural that the jarl should 
demur at first to this unusual proposal, but Olaf explained 
with equal clearness that the only alternative was his 
immediate execution. Under such circumstances Sigurd 
did not hesitate any longer, and was then and there bap- 
tized with all his followers, and swearing allegiance to Olaf, 
gave his son over as a hostage for his good faith. 

After this promising beginning, Olaf continued his voyage 
to Norway. Instead of sailing direct to Tr0ndelagen he 
made for the west coast, and landed on the eastern side of 
the small island of Moster, which lies south of the great 
island of Stord, and inside the marvellous skjcergaard, or 
island belt, which almost everywhere protects the coast of 
Norway from the North Sea. There, close to the place where 
the present village of Mosterhavn and the ancient stone 
church stand, Olaf Trygvess0n again set foot upon his native 
land. We are told that his first act upon landing was to 
have mass sung in a tent which he erected on the shore, on 
the spot where the church now stands, thus emphasizing by 
this ceremony the missionary side of his expedition. He 
had with him his friend and counsellor Bishop Sigurd, a 
man of English race, and several priests who were selected 


for their acquaintance with the language of the Northmen, 
but all trained up in the ways of Anglo-Saxon Christianity. 

From Moster they sailed north to Tr0ndelagen, where, 
instead of the power of the jarl Haakon being at its height, 
as the traitor Klakka had imagined, they found that his 
violations of the homes of the b0nder, had raised the whole 
district in rebellion against him. 

The great-grandson of Harald Haarfagre was welcomed 
as a deliverer, and accepted as a leader of the insurrection. 
The end of the jarl was not long in coming. He took 
refuge with a single thrall in the house of his mistress 
Thora, in Guldalen. When Olaf and his men arrived there 
in search of the jarl, she concealed him under the pigsty, 
where he was murdered by his servant, who brought the 
jarl's head to Olaf, and was rewarded by having his own 
head immediately cut off. 

Thus perished miserably the last great heathen ruler of 
Norway. We cannot fail to recognize the courage and 
ability which Haakon manifested, especially in the earlier 
part of his rule. Nor can we deny to him the credit of a 
sincere attachment to the faith of the old gods of his fore- 
fathers. His enforced baptism in Denmark, he at once 
showed, had been merely a compliance withybrce majeure, 
and in no way binding on him. Had he restrained his evil 
passions in his later days and not excited against himself the 
hostility of his fellow heathen, it is quite possible that the 
attack of Olaf might not have been successful, and that for 
a much longer period heathenism might have retained its 
hold in the North. But his crimes and outrages everywhere 
raised opposition, and at a great Thing for all ihefylker of 
Tr0ndelagen, held immediately after Haakon's death, Olaf 
was unanimously chosen as king, and began in 995 the 
short but remarkable reign which had so much to do with 
the future history of his native land. 

Almost immediately after his being chosen king in 


Tr0ndelagen, Olaf 's authority was accepted throughout the 
land. One Thing after another welcomed him, and even 
those provinces in the south-east, which had been subject 
to the Danish Crown, renounced their allegiance to it, and 
all the petty kings of Norway accepted Olaf as their over- 
lord. Thus in one short year the extraordinary "magnetic 
attractiveness " of Olaf Trygvess0n once more welded 
Norway into a single nation. Olaf was indeed a born 
leader of men, and a typical representative of a Norseman 
in the heroic days. Tall and unmatched in all athletic 
exercises, his skill in arms was also unequalled, and his 
dauntless courage won everywhere for him, the devotion 
of his followers and the respect and fear of his foes. His 
failings were those of the times in which he lived. There 
can be no denying that on many occasions he was guilty of 
permitting very horrible cruelty to be practised on those 
who had fallen into his hands, and this, when done in the 
propagation of the faith, showed that, in common with most 
of the Christian kings of Europe in his day, his missionary 
spirit was more in consonance with the Old than the New 
Testament. His dealings with the opposite sex were not 
always free from blame indeed, there seems no reason to 
doubt that he had more than one wife living at the same 
time but in this also he only reflected the life of the age 
in which he lived. He is to be judged by the standard 
of the tenth century, and not of the twentieth, and, bearing 
that in mind, we cannot fail to recognize him as a great and 
noble man, and a most sincere and devoted believer in the 
faith of Christ. In many ways he was superior to his more 
famous namesake Olaf the Saint, but he lacked the great 
gifts of organization which Olaf Haraldss0n possessed, and 
which left its impress on all the subsequent history of the 
Church in Norway. 

When Olaf had established his authority, he was ready 
to begin his work of spreading Christianity over the country. 


He had very wisely kept that in the background at first, 
and indeed we may wonder that the people of Tr0ndelagen, 
who had been always the chief supporters of the old gods, 
had not extracted conditions from Olaf before electing him 
as king, for they must have known that he was a Christian, 
and had Bishop Sigurd and his priests along with him. 

Such, however, was the hatred which the crimes of 
Haakon Jarl had aroused, that they were only too glad to 
take Olaf as their king, especially when his great popularity 
and immediate descent from Harald Haarfagre, had in it so 
much to commend him to them. 

Olaf further showed his wisdom in commencing his work 
of christianizing the people in Viken instead of Tr0ndelagen. 
This he did for two reasons. First, because Viken was the 
district where the missionaries sent out from Bremen had 
worked ; and although the results of their labours were not 
very great, and what they had accomplished was mostly 
swept away in the heathen reaction under Haakon Jarl, 
still there was a certain amount of familiarity with the facts 
of Christianity still surviving among the people. Secondly, 
however, there was a stronger reason. In Viken the king 
was among his own people, and in the district where his 
father and grandfather had ruled. Olaf rightly estimated 
that the ties of relationship and family connection, when 
supported by the glamour of his name and his might in 
battle, would help him most materially. 

In this he was not disappointed. His kinsmen to whom 
he explained his intention of christianizing Norway were 
ready to fall in with his plans and were at once baptized.* 
This example on the part of the chiefs was quickly 

* Amongst these, according to one account, was Sigurd Syr, the 
chief or king of Ringerike and stepfather of St. Olaf ; and on a 
subsequent visit in 998 it is said that the future king and saint, then 
two years old, was baptized, Olaf Trygvess0n standing as his godfather. 
On this point, however, see p. 61. 


followed by the general body of their adherents, and in a 
short time all had been baptized, and nominally accepted 

After this good beginning, Olaf decided to work north- 
wards along the coast. The people of Agder and Hordaland 
agreed after some persuasion. At Eogaland the people 
came to the Thing fully armed, and intending to resist the 
king ; but the Saga records with great joy, that one after 
another, the three principal men who were chosen as 
spokesmen for the heathen party, and deputed to reply to 
the king, all broke down the moment they attempted to 
speak, and, there being no one to defend heathenism, the 
result was that all were baptized. 

Then Olaf proceeded to meet the Gula Thing, the great 
assembly of the West of Norway, as the Frosta Thing was 
for Tr0ndelagen, and the Eidsiva for the central parts. 
This was usually held at Evenvik, in a fertile valley on the 
rocky coast, just south of the entrance of the great Sogne 
Fjord. At that time the valleys and mountain sides were 
clothed with great forests, where all is now bare and 
devoid of trees, and only the roots of great pines which are 
from time to time dug up, attest the different character 
which the face of the country at that time presented. 

When the Tiling was " set," as the expression was, the 
king was listened to, while he made his customary appeal 
to the people on behalf of the faith. 01mod the Old was 
the spokesman of the chiefs, and declared that if the king 
intended to use force they would resist to the uttermost, 
but if he wished to be friendly they would on their part keep 
on good terms with him, and he concluded by suggesting 
that the king should give his sister Astrid in marriage to 
Erling Skjalgss0n. To this Olaf agreed, and after some 
difficulty persuaded Astrid to consent, and the result was 
finally that the chiefs and people were all baptized. 

The next Thing was that held at Dragseid, a spot situated 

From a Photograph by] [T Olaf Willson. 



(15th Century.) 

St. Sunniva in the csntre, with St. Peter and St. Mary Magdalene. 
Now in Bergen Museum 

[To face p. 46. 



on the neck of the great peninsula of Stadt, a little north 
of the Nordfjord. This Thing was attended by the people 
of S0ndm0re and the Romsdal, as well as by those from the 
Firda jylker, the country between Nordfjord and Sogne 
Fjord. Here Olaf was apparently more peremptory. He 
gave them the simple alternative of baptism or fighting, and 
as he was the strongest the b0nder agreed to be baptized. 

Close to Dragseid is the small island of Selje. According 
to some accounts, it was at this time that the king discovered, 
or was informed of, the existence of the body of St. Sunniva, 
who had met her death on this island. As the saint was 
subsequently recognized as one of the three patrons of 
Norway, it is well to relate her story here. 

According to the "Acta Sanctorum in Selio," it was in 
the time of the Kaiser Otto I. (936973) that " Sweet 
Sunniva the blessed " lived. She was the daughter of an 
Irish king, and to escape marriage with a heathen prince, 
she fled from her home and embarked in three ships with a 
number of men, women, and children, who along with her 
desired to escape " from the raging storms of an evil world." 
Without oars or ship-gear they committed themselves to 
the sea, and the storm and tempest carried them across the 
North Sea^ and finally landed them on the little island of 
Selje. The people on the mainland saw the strangers, and 
proceeded to attack them. Sunniva and her companions 
fled for refuge to a cave on the island, and prayed that 
death might come to deliver them from their heathen foes. 
The prayer was heard, and a stenskred (stone avalanche) 
fell and closed the entrance to the cave and all perished. 
Later on some merchants sailing past the island, saw a light, 
and going ashore found a human head, which emitted a 

* It is not a little remarkable that an exactly similar instance to this, 
occurred in our own day, in the case of Elizabeth Mouath, who was 
blown across the North Sea in a fishing-smack from the Shetlands to 
the island of Leps0, a little north of Selje. 


fragrant odour. They went to Olaf Trygvess0n and told 
the tale. The king then with Bishop Sigurd went to the 
island, and after searching they discovered the body of 
St. Sunniva perfectly preserved. A church was erected on 
the island and a cloister established, and from Selje later 
on, many teachers went out to spread the faith. It seems 
most probable, on the whole, that the visit of Olaf and 
Bishop Sigurd to Selje, took place after he had gone to 
Nidaros, and when his work of christianizing the north was 
further advanced. Selje was subsequently the seat of a 
bishopric, which was transferred to Bergen at the end of the 
eleventh century ; but it remained an important monastic 
centre down to the sixteenth century, and may well be 
called the " holy isle " of Norway. 

Olaf was now rapidly approaching Tr0ndelagen, where 
the first real opposition to his efforts to spread the faith 
was to be encountered. Sailing with his fleet into the 
Trondhjem Fjord, the king made at once for Hlade, where 
the famous heathen temple stood, on the estate of his 
predecessor Haakon Jarl. 

His movements seem to have taken the people by 
surprise ; the district was the stronghold of heathenism, and 
the inhabitants, though the most powerful in Norway, were 
unprepared to defend their gods. Olaf acted with his usual 
promptitude; landing his men, they plundered and destroyed 
the temple, and the king carried off in triumph a gold ring 
which Haakon Jarl had placed on the temple door. This 
open attack on the religion of the people immediately 
roused the district. The b0nder at once sent round the 
hcerpil, or war arrow, and the people flocked to defend 
their gods. Not finding himself strong enough, Olaf decided 
to move north to Haalogaland (the district along the coast, 
north of Namsos) and see what he could do with the 
inhabitants there ; but they had been warned, and their 
three chiefs, Haarek of Thjotta, Hjort of Vaage, and Eivind 


Kinnriva, collected their forces to withstand the king, 
and finding himself thus foiled Olaf sailed southwards. 
When he reached the Trondhjem Fjord the b0nder had gone 
back again to their farms. 

Olaf at this time (996 7) founded the town of Nidaros, 
the present city of Trondhjem. He selected as the site, the 
spot where the Nid flows into the fjord. At this place 
the river takes a great bend before entering the sea, and 
the king with much wisdom placed the buildings in such a 
position, that the river formed on almost two sides a natural 
moat which would protect them from attack by a land force. 
Here he built a rough kind of palace, and here also he 
erected a church, most likely of timber, and dedicated it to 
St. Clement, bishop of Kome. The king by his founding of 
the town shewed that he felt the importance of attracting 
traders to the country, and raising up a force which might 
be useful against the power of the b0nder. 

Olaf now considered he was strong enough to summon a 
meeting of the Thing at Frosta in the autumn of 996. 
The b0nder, however, were not to be caught napping. 
They came to the gathering fully armed, and having as 
their leader and speaker, the powerful chief who was known 
as Jernskjaegge (the iron beard) of Upphaug. The Thing 
being set, Olaf rose and addressed them, and urged the 
acceptance of Christianity. At once cries of dissent were 
heard, and they tried to stop the king, reminding him of 
the way in which Haakon the Good's similar proposal was 
met at the same place. 

Olaf quickly saw that he was not strong enough to resist 
the power of the b0nder on this occasion, and so he began to 
speak kindly to them, and skilfully averted an outbreak, 
promising that he would meet them at Mseren later on, 
and join in the great blot, or sacrificial feast, held there 
in the January following. After this the Thing broke up, 
and Olaf and his men went back to Hlade, on the outskirts 

C.S.N. E 


of his newly-founded town of Nidaros, and the b0nder 
returned to their farms. 

The king, however, had no idea of abandoning his crusade 
against heathenism, but he went to work craftily. When 
the time approached for the blot at Mseren, he invited to a 
feast all the principal men of the districts close to Nidaros, 
and they responded to the invitation, apparently without 
suspicion. Olaf had taken the precaution of having a 
number of ships and picked men ready close at hand. The 
chiefs were received with great cordiality by the king, and, 
as was customary, all drank heavily at the feast. Next 
morning the king was up early and had Mass said, and then 
brought his men ashore. When the chiefs had awakened 
after their night's carouse, Olaf called them to a meeting. 
Then the humour of the king was seen. With a delightful 
appearance of sincerity he gravely explained to them that 
at the Frosta Thing they had insisted he should follow the 
example of Haakon and sacrifice to the gods ; he was 
therefore resolved that the forthcoming festival should be 
one of no ordinary grandeur and solemnity. Hitherto they 
had been accustomed to offer a miserable thrall as a sacrifice 
to the gods, but he intended to do better than that. 
Then to the horror of his guests he mentioned the names of 
six of the principal men before him, and announced his 
intention to offer them up as a sacrifice. We can well 
imagine the terror of the chiefs when they found themselves 
in the king's power. They at once begged for mercy, and 
Olaf readily promised it on condition, that they were all 
then and there baptized, and further that they would give 
hostages for their future good behaviour. These terms they 
willingly accepted, and they were sent away. The opposition 
of the inner Trondhj em district was thus practically broken. 
In January, 997, came the great gathering at Mseren, 
where Olaf had promised to take part in the sacrifices. 
Both sides came fully armed. The Thing assembled, and 


the people demanded that the king should keep his promise. 
Olaf then proceeded with Jernskjsegge and others to the 
hov or temple ; all who entered were unarmed, but the 
king placed outside a body of men fully armed to be ready 
for emergencies. In his hand Olaf bore a golden staff; 
when they came to the image of Thor, the king with this 
staff struck down the idol. At once his men, taking this 
as a signal, overturned the other idols. In the confusion 
which arose, Jernskjsegge sought to escape, but when he 
came out of the temple he was killed by the king's men. 
Then Olaf came out and addressed the excited multitude, 
giving them the usual alternative baptism or immediate 
battle. The heathen, seeing their leader slain and having 
no hope of success, chose baptism, and they were, as usual, 
at once baptized and sent to their homes. After this there 
seems to have been no open resistance in Tr0ndelagen to 
Olaf s efforts on behalf of Christianity. 

In order to conciliate the b0nder it was arranged that 
the king should marry Jernskjaegge's daughter Gudrun, but 
as she attempted to assassinate him on the evening of the 
marriage, she was put away. Then, it seems, Olaf sought 
the hand of the proud and ambitious Sigrid, the widow of 
Erik of Sweden. He did his wooing by deputy, and sent 
her as a gift the gold ring he had taken from Haakon Jarl's 
hov at Hlade. The queen accepted the offering ; but on dis- 
covering that the ring was not pure gold, but only copper 
gilt, she was very angry. A meeting with Olaf was, how- 
ever, arranged 'to be held at Konghelle. The queen found 
that the Norwegian monarch expected that she would, as a 
preliminary step, be baptized, but to this she indignantly 
declined to submit. Olaf was very angry, and exclaimed, 
" Why should I marry a heathen hound like you ? " and so 
far forgot himself as to strike her on the face with his glove. 
" This will be your bane," said the furious queen as they 
parted. Her words came true, as we shall see. Soon after 



she married Svein Tjugeskjseg, the king of Denmark, who 
was quite ready to dispute Olaf s possession of Norway, 
from whence his jarl had been driven by the coming of 
Olaf in 995. 

Having upturned heathenism in Tr0ndelagen, Olaf in 
998 and 999 turned his attention again to Haalogaland, 
where the chiefs had resisted his first attempt. By a 
stratagem he got Haarek of Thjotta into his power and had 
him baptized, and on his promising to be faithful to him 
sent him back to the north. Haarek repaid the king by 
capturing Eivind Kinnriva and sending him to Nidaros. 
The king's threats were of no avail against this brave 
heathen, and the consequence was he was put to death with 
horrible cruelty. Now there were but two heathen chiefs left, 
Kaud of God0, and Hjort, and the king went north against 
them ; they were soon defeated. Hjort was, after an 
exciting chase, shot by the king himself when he had been 
brought to bay by Olaf 's famous dog Vige, and Eaud, who 
was taken prisoner, and followed the example of Eivind, 
was barbarously put to death. So ended the open heathen 
resistance in the north. Before this expedition Olaf had 
spent the winter in Viken, and seems to have attempted 
to christianize the Oplands, the country around and north 
of the Mi0sen lake, but did not do much there, and the final 
uprooting of heathenism in that part was the work of 
St. Olaf. 

In the space of about four years Norway, through the 
vigorous measures of King Olaf, had thus practically become 
Christian. The methods adopted were not such as would 
commend themselves to us at the present day, and there 
can be no doubt that as the work went on, and the power 
of the king increased, he became much more cruel towards 
those who resisted him. One could wish that for the sake 
of Olafs name the accounts of the cruelties which were 
perpetrated in Haalogaland were not true ; but there seems 


no reason to doubt them for a moment, and the writers of 
the Sagas gloried in them as marks of the king's power 
and, from their point of view, as acceptable to God. 

The short and brilliant reign of Olaf Trygvess0n was now 
drawing to a close. We have seen how the rejected Queen 
Sigrid had vowed vengeance on the king, and almost im- 
mediately after the incident narrated above, had married 
King Svein of Denmark. Just at that time Olaf had 
married Thyra, the sister of King Svein, who had been 
wife of King Burislaf of Vendland, but had separated from 
him and taken refuge in Norway. This marriage much 
incensed Svein, and his union with Sigrid made another 
enemy for Olaf in the Danish court. 

Queen Thyra's insistance on her husband making an ex- 
pedition to Vendland to recover some of her estates, was 
for a long time disregarded by the king ; but at last he gave 
way, and in the summer of the year 1000 he set out with 
a powerful fleet, and, without encountering opposition, 
secured his wife's property. 

This was the chance for which Svein and Sigrid were 
watching, and which Erik Jarl (son of Haakon) and his 
brother Svein hailed as an opportunity for avenging their 
father's death. When Olaf was returning home by the 
treacherous advice of Sigvald the Jomsviking, who was 
bribed by King Svein he was induced to allow his fleet 
to scatter, and was attacked, when he had only eleven ships, 
by the fleet of the Danish king and Erik Jarl. 

The ships of the enemy were lying in wait beside the 
little island of S voider, near Riigen, and when the advance 
part of Olaf s fleet had passed out of sight, emerged from 
their shelter and attacked the king and the ten ships which 
were with him. A. fierce fight ensued. Olaf fought with 
that dauntless courage which had ever sustained him, but 
the odds were overwhelming. Nearly all his men were 
slain, the king himself was wounded, and, seeing that all 


was lost and he was in danger of being taken prisoner, he with 
his devoted friend Kolbj0rn Stallare, sprang overboard, one 
from each side of the ship. Kolbj0rn held his shield under 
him and was picked up at once by Erik's men, who mistook 
him for the king, but Olaf, who held his shield over his 
head, disappeared and was seen no more. There can be no 
manner of doubt that the king was drowned ; but his body 
was never recovered, and tradition had it that he escaped 
and went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and died in 
extreme old age in a Syrian monastery. 

Thus ended the life of this remarkable man, who in such a 
short space had effected so great a change in the history of his 
native land. Of his character and methods we have already 
spoken, and of the results which followed from his missionary 
efforts we shall speak further on, when we come to the reign of 
his famous namesake. His death was a fitting close to his 
strange and eventful life. He passed away as the Norsemen 
of old thought it noblest to do, in the midst of the fight. 
Like Frederick Barbarossa, like other great warriors and 
kings, famous in history or legend, the mystery of his ending 
threw a glamour of romance about his name ; and often in 
after days it may have been that many a Norseman looked for 
an hour when the hero of the race of the fair-haired Harald 
would come back again, and lead them to victory against the 
enemies of the " White Christ " and of the land which they 
loved so well. 

Before closing this chapter it is necessary to allude to 
the work of spreading Christianity in Iceland, which was 
mostly accomplished under the king's direction ; for 
though Iceland was then an independent State, it was in 
closest connection with Norway, from whence its earliest 
Norse inhabitants had come in the reign of Harald 

The first Christians in Iceland were the Irish monks 
who had sought refuge there about the eighth century, at 


a time when Ireland was the great missionary church of 
the West, and had sent its missionaries to spread the faith 
all over the Continent, as well as in Scotland and the 
north of England. St. Gall, labouring in Switzerland, and 
St. Columbanus at Bobbio, in the north of Italy, had carried 
the light of the Gospel among the barbarian races who had 
established themselves in the land of the fallen Western 

The Irish hermits found in Iceland a quiet resting-place 
in dark and troublous times, and when the freedom-loving 
Northmen, who declined to submit to the rule of Harald 
Haarfagre, came to Iceland they found before them some of 
these pious men, who had braved the perils of the unknown 
seas and settled there. 

These Northmen were of course heathen, and carried with 
them the worship of their forefathers, and soon erected 
their temples to Odin and Thor, and drove the hermits to 
seek some other retreat. 

The first efforts to evangelize the new settlers were made, 
some fifteen years before the accession of Olaf Trygvess0n, 
by an Icelander named Thorvald Kodranss0n, who had been 
a Viking, but who had come under the influence of Bishop 
Frederick of Saxony, who baptized him. This man induced 
the bishop to accompany him to Iceland in 981, and 
together they did a good deal of work in the part of the 
country lying in the east and north. At first there does 
not seem to have been much opposition, but when they 
tried to induce the Althing to accept the faith, the heathen 
chiefs, as in the Things of Norway, were at once violent in 
their opposition. The controversy at one gathering became 
so acute that Thorvald in rage slew two of his opponents, 
and was then driven from the country. 

No further attempt seems to have been made until after 
Olaf had been accepted as king in Norway, when he sent 
one of his men, an Icelander, named Stefner Thorgilss0n, 


to resume the work. He commenced his labours in the 
south and west ; but his zeal aroused the heathen, and he 
was banished from the land, and returned to Norway to 
King Olaf. Meanwhile the king had, in the usual way, 
baptized any Icelanders whom he met with in Norway, and 
sent them back pledged to advance Christianity in their 
own country. 

Olaf now sent a missionary of another kind. When he 
first came to Norway he had with him, among the priests 
with Bishop Sigurd, a man named Teodbrand, who was a 
Saxon priest, said to be the son of a nobleman. This man 
was first acquainted with Olaf in his early Viking days, and 
followed his adventurous life before 994. He was a clever 
man and a very eloquent speaker, but of a most violent 
temper, and acted in many ways in a manner very contrary 
to his calling. After 995 he was placed in charge of the 
church which had been erected on the island of Moster, in 
Hordaland, and there enforced his doctrines with many 
"apostolic blows and knocks," and seems to have lived 
more as a Viking than a Christian priest. 

Tidings of his misconduct came to Olaf, and he sent for 
him to Nidaros and lectured him with great severity. Teod- 
brand was much alarmed, and asked the king to allow him 
to atone for his evil deeds by undertaking some difficult 
and dangerous work. Thereupon Olaf ordered him at once to 
Iceland. When he got there his eloquence and zeal had 
considerable effect ; but Teodbrand, or Thangbrand, as he 
was also called, soon broke out again and killed two 
of his antagonists, and in 998 9 returned to Norway to 
the king. In spite of this unworthy missionary, Christianity 
continued to make progress in Iceland, and the influence 
of two of the chiefs, Gissurthe White and Hjalte Skjseggess0n, 
who had become Christians, was so great that in the year 
1000 the Althing accepted Christianity as the religion of 
the island. 


The inhabitants of the Faeroe Islands,* under their chief 
Sigmund Bretess0n, also embraced Christianity. 

It was about the year 1000 that the Northmen from Ice- 
land and Greenland, attempted to colonize the part of North 
America known to them as Vinland, so called because the 
vine grew wild there. This region, which is generally 
thought to have been one of the New England States, was 
first discovered bv Leif Eriksson, son of Erik the Red (the 




Page 57, line 22, for "ratione," read "relatione." ,t 



__ __ ^ 

"non fabulosa opinione sed certa comperimus ratione 
Danorum" (Gesta Hamm. Eccles. Pont., Bk. IY., c. 38). 

* The name here given is the conventional English one, and 
undoubtedly incorrect. It should be Far<j>erne Faer0 = island of sheep 
or cattle. 0erne = the islands. " Faeroe Islands " is a pleonasm. 


to resume the work. He commenced his labours in the 
south and west ; but his zeal aroused the heathen, and he 
was banished from the land, and returned to Norway to 
King Olaf. Meanwhile the king had, in the usual way, 
baptized any Icelanders whom he met with in Norway, and 
sent them back pledged to advance Christianity in their 

first c; 



was fi 




to hii 




more _____ 

Tidings of his misconduct came to UJai, aim i^ M ^ ____ 
him to Nidaros and lectured him with great severity. Teod- 
brand was much alarmed, and asked the king to allow him 
to atone for his evil deeds by undertaking some difficult 
and dangerous work. Thereupon Olaf ordered him at once to 
Iceland. When he got there his eloquence and zeal had 
considerable effect ; but Teodbrand, or Thangbrand, as he 
was also called, soon broke out again and killed two 
of his antagonists, and in 998 9 returned to Norway to 
the king. In spite of this unworthy missionary, Christianity 
continued to make progress in Iceland, and the influence 
of two of the chiefs, Gissur the White and Hjalte Skjaeggess0n, 
who had become Christians, was so great that in the year 
1000 the Althing accepted Christianity as the religion of 
the island. 


The inhabitants of the Fseroe Islands,* under their chief 
Sigmund Bretess0n, also embraced Christianity. 

It was about the year 1000 that the Northmen from Ice- 
land and Greenland, attempted to colonize the part of North 
America known to them as Vinland, so called because the 
vine grew wild there. This region, which is generally 
thought to have been one of the New England States, was 
first discovered by Leif Erikss0n, son of Erik the Ked (the 
first explorer of Greenland), who, returning from Norway 
to Greenland, was driven out of his course by a gale of 
wind. After a precarious existence as a Norse colony, it- 
was finally abandoned, but the knowledge of the continent 
of North America always survived in Iceland, and Leif 
Erikss0n, not Christopher Columbus, has the right to be 
regarded as the undoubted Discoverer of America. 

In this connection, it is most interesting to note that 
Adam of Bremen, in the second half of the eleventh 
century, mentions Vinland. He speaks of it as " an island 
(or region) . . . which is called Yinland because vines 
grow there wild, producing excellent wine, and fruit 
abounds there which has not been planted " ; then he adds, 
"non fabulosa opinione sed certa comperimus ratione 
Danorum" (Gesta Hamm. Eccles. Pont., Bk. IV., c. 38). 

* The name here given is the conventional English one, and 
undoubtedly incorrect. It should be Fczrfarne Faer0 = island of sheep 
or cattle. 0erne = the islands. " Faeroe Islands " is a pleonasm. 


The Interregnum after Svolder Olaf s Birth and Early Days His 
Coming to England Goes to Normandy Baptized at Rouen 
Olaf Sails for Norway to Claim the Throne Accepted in Ringerike 
First Partial Success The Crowning Victory of Nesje Olaf as 
King of Norway His Character and Personal Appearance The 
State of the Country as to Christianity Olaf s two Great Aims 
His Fellow -helpers Olaf as an Ecclesiastical Law-giver The 
Scope of Olaf's Kristenret The Systematic "Work throughout 
Norway Olaf's Appeal to Bremen Knut the Great claims Norway 
Popular Discontent against Olaf Knut wins Norway without a 
Sword-stroke Olaf's Flight to Sweden and Gardarike He Returns 
to Sweden, and again Enters Norway The Journey to Vaerdalen 
The King's Forces and the Rebels The Rebel Leaders The 
Court Bishop Sigurd The Battle of Stiklestad and the Martyrdom 
The Difficulty as to the Exact Date The King's Body brought 
to Nidaros and Buried in the Sand. 

THE events of the fifteen years which elapsed between 
the battle of Svolder and the coming of Olaf Haraldss0n to 
claim the inheritance of the race of Harald Haarfagre, 
need not, from a purely ecclesiastical point of view, detain 
us long. 

After the death of Olaf Trygvess0n, Norway reverted to 
a position similar to that of the days of Haakon Jarl. It 
ceased to be a kingdom, and became a vassal State of 
Denmark. The allies who compassed the death of Olaf 
divided the spoil. Erik Jarl got the lion's share, and 
practically held all the west of Norway from Haalogaland 
to Lindesnses. Olaf of Sweden (the son of Queen Sigrid), 
who had helped at Svolder, received the country east and 
south of the present city of Christiania, called Kanrike, 


and also four fylker in the north. Svein of Denmark 
obtained Viken and Agder. Svein, Erik Jarl's brother, 
held the parts of the country allotted to the kings of Sweden 
and Denmark, and so the two brothers between them ruled 
the whole of Norway. 

The two jarls were (unlike their father) Christians, and 
they seemed to have ruled well in their several districts ; 
but they made no efforts to spread Christianity, and in 
their time every man did that which was right in his 
own eyes in all matters of religion. They had only one 
rival in the land, and that was Erling Skjalgss0n, who had 
married Astrid, sister of King Olaf, and resided at Sole, in 
Jaederen, a few miles from the present city of Stavanger. 
His authority extended over a large part of the surrounding 
country, and the brothers did not deem it prudent to 
attack him. 

Erik Jarl had as his great supporter in the north, Einar 
Thamberskj elver, a noted archer, who had fought alongside 
King Olaf at 8 voider, but had accepted the alliance offered 
him by Erik, and the compact was cemented by his 
marriage with Bergliot, the sister of the jarl. 

After the death of Svein in 1013 Knut the Great called 
on his vassal Erik for aid in his invasion of England, and 
to this call he responded, leaving his son Haakon in his 
place, with his uncle Einar as his guardian. 

Such was briefly the state of affairs when Olaf 
Haraldss0n made his appearance to claim his kingdom. 
We must now, however, retrace our steps and consider 
the early life of the future saint of Norway. 

Harold Grenske, the father of Olaf, was one of the petty 
kings who ruled in Vestfold, the country to the west of the 
Christiania Fjord. He was grandson of Bj0rn Farmand, 
and therefore great-grandson of the mighty Haarfagre. He 
received the name of Grenske from having been brought 
up in the district called Gr0nland (now part of the 


Telemark), where, in his early days, he had as his foster- 
sister the future far-famed Queen Sigrid. Harald married 
Aasta Gudbrandsdatter, a wise and prudent woman; but 
she does not seem to have had much influence over her 
rather worthless husband. When Queen Sigrid was first left 
a widow, Harald Grenske, although his wife was living, at 
once became a suitor for her hand. After first receiving 
his advances favourably, the haughty queen had the house 
in which Harald was staying burned down one night, and 
he perished in the flames, Sigrid remarking that she did not 
want any of these small kings ! 

Very soon after her faithless husband's death, Aasta gave 
birth to Olaf, who thus, like his namesake, the son of 
Trygve, was born after his father's violent death. Some 
little time after this Aasta married Sigurd Syr, petty 
king of Eingerike, and another great-grandson of Harald 

In his stepfather's home Olaf grew up a strong and active 
lad. At the early age of twelve years he, as was then 
customary, started on a Viking cruise (1007). In this, his 
first voyage, which was to the Baltic, he had as his instructor 
in the art of war his foster-father Eane. After a time the 
scene of their exploits was changed to England, then a 
promising field for the Northmen, who were eager for 
plunder. In 1009 Olaf seems to have been in England 
with Thorkel the Tall, and to have joined in the various 
attacks which were made on that unfortunate country 
during the reign of Ethelred II. 

In 1012, however, we find him and his friend fighting on 
the side of Ethelred in the defence of London against the 
attack of Svein, and it was on that occasion that " London 
bridge was broken down," in accordance with the stratagem 
of Olaf, who, protecting his ships from the Danes who 
manned the bridge, destroyed the piles which supported it 
and finally broke it in two. Notwithstanding this, the 


cause of Svein at last triumphed ; Ethelred was obliged 
to fly to Normandy, and Olaf, faithful to his ally, followed 
him to that country, and was soon at home among the 
Norwegian settlers there. Svein died in 1014, and 
Ethelred was recalled to England. 

It would seem most probable that it was during his stay 
in Normandy that Olaf was baptized. It is true that 
Snorre states that the future saint had received that sacra- 
ment when a child of " three winters old," during the visit 
paid by Olaf Trygvess0n to Kingerike about the year 997, 
when a number of people in that part of the country were 
baptized. Snorre's account seems reasonable enough at 
first sight, but we have, however, evidence to the contrary, 
which renders it more probable that his baptism was deferred 
until his visit to Normandy. That he was a believer in 
the Christian faith when he came to England is most 
probable, but that he had not yet been baptized seems 
equally clear. 

William of Jumieges, in his Chronicle, says : " The Duke 
[Richard] . . . called to his aid two kings, with an army 
of Pagans Olaf, King of the Norwegians, and Lacman, 
King of the Swedes.'* Then he mentions their going to 
Rouen, tl where the Duke Richard welcomed them royally. 
. . . Then King Olaf, being attracted by the Christian 
religion, as were also some of his followers ; and on the 
exhortation of Robert Archbishop [of Rouen], was converted 
to the faith of Christ, was washed in baptism and anointed 
with holy oil by the archbishop, and, full of joy at the 
grace he had received, returned straightway to his own 

In the " Passio et Miracula Beati Olaui," * the work of 
the great Archbishop Eystein, the same statement meets 
us : " He, when he had learned the truth of the Gospel in 
England, confessed the faith with all his heart, and with 

* Cap. I. 


zealous devotion of mind hastened to seek the grace of 
baptism in the city of Kouen. Then, being purified by 
the font of Salvation, he was immediately changed to 
another man ; and, as the apostle says, he was buried with 
Christ by baptism into Death. . . . He despised every 
sort of vain pleasure, and the glory of an earthly kingdom 
became as dross in comparison with the sweetness of the 
heavenly one. Although he held a kingly position, he was 
poor in spirit." 

In " Breviarium Nidrosiense," these words just quoted 
formed the first lection which was used in the service 
appointed for July 28th, the vigil of St. Olaf. It seems 
clear, therefore, that the Norwegian Church believed that 
Olaf was baptized during this visit to Normandy. 

His baptism, and confirmation which must have immedi- 
ately followed it, undoubtedly served to deepen the religious 
feelings of Olaf, and filled him with the desire to carry on 
and complete the work which his great kinsman and name- 
sake had begun in his native land ; but just at the moment 
there seemed no immediate prospect of a successful 
attempt to claim the throne of Norway, and so he waited. 

According to one account, he meditated passing some 
time on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but was warned in 
a dream that he should desist and, instead of this, assert 
his claim to the inheritance of his fathers. 

Olaf was a man of very great discretion, and was not 
ready to endanger his chances of success by any premature 
move. He felt sure, from what he knew of the position of 
affairs both in Denmark and England, that the time would 
not be long before he would have a chance of asserting his 
claims. And in this he was not wrong. 

The opportunity for which Olaf was waiting soon came. 
Knut the Great, who had succeeded his father Svein, 
summoned Erik Jarl to aid him in his invasion of England, 
and Olaf felt that this was the time to attempt to take 


possession of the kingdom of his great ancestor Harald 
Haarfagre. He returned to England, and sailed along the 
coast to Northumbria, plundering as he went. Finally he 
set sail with two large ships and two hundred and sixty 
picked men. After a stormy passage they came safely to 
the island of Selje without meeting any opposition. On 
landing, Olaf stumbled and fell on one knee. " I have 
fallen," he cried to his followers. "You have not fallen, 
King," said his foster-father Kane; "you have only 
taken a firm hold of the land." " So be it if God wills/' 
said Olaf. 

As a Heaven-sent leader, Olaf proved to be singularly 
fortunate at the outset. He was proceeding south from 
Selje, and when a little north of the Sogne Fjord he had 
the good luck to capture the young jarl Haakon Erikss0n, 
who was not expecting the invader in that part of the 
country. Instead of putting the young man to death, as 
some advised, Olaf set him free, having first obliged him 
to swear that he would never oppose his claims on Norway. 
This generous treatment was, for the time at least, rewarded, 
and the young jarl went at once to his uncle, King Knut. 
How far he kept the promise we shall see later on. 

After this encouraging beginning, Olaf continued his 
journey round the coast until he came to Viken, where he 
was received with open arms by his amiable stepfather, 
Sigurd Syr. This petty king at once called a Thing, and 
at it Olaf was chosen as king without any opposition. He 
was still, however, very far from the overlordship of 

Leaving Viken with a small but resolute body of men, he 
went north in the winter, and crossing over the Dovre 
Fjeld, appeared suddenly at Nidaros, to the astonishment of 
the Jarl Svein, who, after a narrow escape of being taken 
prisoner, fled to the south. The people of Tr0ndelagen, 
however, were deeply attached to the family of the jarl of 


Hlade, and, recovering from their first surprise, attacked 
Olaf at Nidaros and forced him to return again to Viken. 
He then saw that if he was to be ultimately successful, he 
must set to work in a more systematic manner. 

Seeing how essential it was to have the supremacy at 
sea, he spent the winter of 1015 16 in getting together a 
fleet and equipping it with a body of trained men. His 
opponent Jarl Svein did the same thing in the north, and, 
when the spring was come, sailed south to attack his 
daring invader. 

The two fleets encountered each other at Nesjar, or 
Nesje, at the entrance of the Langesund, near the present 
town of Frederiksvsern. There, on Palm Sunday, April 3rd, 
1016, a decisive battle was fought and the jarl, being signally 
defeated, fled to Sweden, intending to fit out a fresh fleet, 
but died soon after his arrival in that country. 

The victory at Nesje secured Norway to Olaf. Knut 
was then too busy with the conquest of England to be able 
to send men to support his vassal's cause in Norway, and 
in a very short time Thing after Thing acknowledged 
Olafs authority, and he became undisputed monarch of 
the whole land ; and once more, as in the days of Olaf 
Trygvess0n, Norway was ruled by the firm hand of one 

It was not to be expected that Olaf, king of Sweden, 
would at once acquiesce in this new state of affairs. He 
sent his men to collect taxes in those provinces which 
Jarl Svein had held under him. This Olaf Haraldss0n 
promptly resented, and the unfortunate officials were either 
killed or driven away. Matters appeared for a time to be 
in a very critical state ; but the people of neither nation 
wished for war, and at a great Thing held at Upsala 
matters were for a time peaceably arranged. 

To strengthen the defences of Norway on the side of 
Sweden, Olaf founded the town of Borg (or Sarpsborg, as it is 


now called), at the mouth of the Glommen, near the Swedish 
frontier, and there he built a church. Thus, political diffi- 
culties being for the time settled, Olaf was able to devote 
himself to the internal affairs of his country, and to the com- 
pletion of the work which Olaf Trygvess0n had begun, in the 
establishment, on a firm basis, of Christianity in Norway. 

Olaf Haraldss0n was now in his twenty-second year a 
very youthful monarch, it is true, but one of very varied 
experience. He had begun his active life and shared in 
war at the very early age of twelve years, so that when he 
became king he had a wider knowledge of the world and 
its ways, than that which fell to the lot of most of his 
contemporaries in the North. 

In person, King Olaf was not of the commanding stature 
of most of the Norsemen. He was of middle height, but 
very strongly built, and inclined to stoutness, which led his 
enemies to bestow on him the nickname of Olaf Digre. 
Like most of the chiefs of his time, he was very skilful in 
the use of weapons. His hair was auburn in colour, inclin- 
ing to red, and indeed the description of David answers 
very much to that of Olaf " he was ruddy and withal of 
a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look upon." His 
eyes (all the writers of the Sagas remark) were very 
piercing, and when he was angry his men dared not look 
him in the face.^ In his inflexible will and determination 
to carry out whatever he had undertaken he resembled his 

* Sigvat the Skald thus describes the effect of Olaf 's glance on hia 
rebellious subjects, in his last fight at Stiklestad : 

" I think I saw them shrink with fear : 
Who would not shrink from foeman's spear, 
When Olaf's lion-eye was cast 
On them, and called up all the past ? 

" Clear as the serpent's eye his look, 
No Trondhjem man could stand but shook 
Beneath its glance, and skulked away 
Knowing his king, and cursed the day." 

(Laing's Translation of the Heimskringla.) 
C.S.N. F 


great ancestor Haarfagre. Very generous to his friends, 
and often to his enemies when they fell into his power, 
he was nevertheless sometimes very cruel to those who 
resisted his will, especially where Christianity was con- 
cerned. Of the depth and sincerity of his belief in the 
Christian faith, his life and death gave proof, and although 
a vast amount of legend has gathered round the " Royal 
Saint " of Norway, we can, notwithstanding, very easily 
form an accurate estimate of the character of the man. 

It is well here to consider what was the state of the 
country with respect to Christianity when Olaf was ready 
to commence his work. 

We have seen the way in which Olaf Trygvess0n went 
through the length and breadth of the land, giving the 
people the alternative of baptism or the sword, and that 
after a very few years the great majority of his subjects 
had been baptized. It is perfectly clear that in cases of 
enforced baptism, it would have exercised no influence 
whatever on the lives of those who had received it, except 
in the comparatively few districts where the king had had 
churches built and priests (more spiritually-minded, let us 
hope, than Thangbrand) placed to teach the people the faith. 

At first sight, it seems to us almost incredible that in 
such a short space of time a large body of heathen should 
have submitted, even nominally, to receive Christianity, 
although backed up by force of arms. There is, however, 
one important consideration which must not be overlooked, 
and to which we have before alluded.^ There was no 
regular heathen priesthood to organize the opposition to 
the efforts of the king. The priestly offices at the blots 
were performed by the head of the family, or the chief of 
the district. This absence of a priestly caste was an 
immense help in the rapid spread of Christianity. When, 
therefore, the chief, or some of the principal b0nder of the 
* Chap, i., p. 6. 


fylke had been baptized, most of their people followed like 
a flock of sheep. If the chief allowed the hov to be 
demolished there was no other place in which the worship 
of the gods could take place. 

We may wonder why it was that Olaf Trygvess0n and 
Olaf the Saint, who had at any rate some fair instruction in 
the Christian faith, and were accompanied in their journeys 
and work by such good men as Bishops Sigurd and Grim- 
kell, should have acted in a way which might naturally 
seem to us now, to actually profane the sacrament of holy 
baptism. We must, however, remember that in acting in 
this way they were only following exactly, the precedent 
set before them by the restorer of the Western Empire, 
Karl the Great, in his dealings with the Saxons and other 
heathen nations of northern Europe. 

In those days, and in the minds of the two Olafs and 
their teachers, holy baptism, even when thus administered, 
was regarded as (to quote the words of St. Paul) " a trans- 
lation from the kingdom of darkness." They felt that if it 
could be accomplished, either by fair means or foul, the 
power of Thor and Odin a power they did not attempt to 
despise was at once broken ; and so they believed with 
all sincerity, that no matter how it was brought about, 
whether by persuasion or torture, if the people could be 
baptized the battle was practically won. 

In a sense this was true, because those who had been 
baptized had at any rate their faith shaken in the power of 
the gods their fathers worshipped. Might was the thing 
which appealed most strongly to the heathen Norsemen, 
and when they saw that their gods were not able to give 
them the victory over their Christian antagonists, they 
were ready to fall in with the creed of Harald Haarfagre, 
and to believe in the God that was the strongest. 

Then, again, with many of the heathen, who were of a 
very superstitious mind, they felt that their baptism, whether 


it was done willingly or by yielding to force, was an act which 
cut them off entirely from the old gods, and made a return 
to the former state of things an impossibility. It was a 
Rubicon which when once crossed, retreat was out of the 
question. There were, it is true, heathen of a sterner mould, 
like Haakon Jarl, who almost immediately after his baptism, 
put his priests ashore and at once proceeded to sacrifice 
to the gods ; but with the majority it was not so, and 
their baptism left the ground cleared, as it were, for the 
reception of real Christianity. 

The wholesale destruction of temples and idols by Olaf 
Trygvess0n (and before his time, by Erik's sons, for the 
purpose of plunder) was an object-lesson for the Northmen 
of precisely the same kind as that afforded by Gideon to 
the people of Orphra^ in connection with the worship of 
Baal. If Thor and Odin were the powerful gods they had 
believed them to be, how was it they did not resent the 
destruction of the temples and of their images 1 It was 
clear " the White Christ " was the strongest^ and therefore 
they would be safe to follow Him. The early Christian 
teachers did not attempt to deny altogether the existence 
of the old gods, but they taught the people they were 
devils and powers of evil, which Christ came to cast down 
and destroy ; and our Lord's declaration, " All power is 
given unto Me in heaven and in earth," was the one which 
perhaps impressed the heathen Northman, and led him to 
be baptized, much more than any promise to the weary and 
heavy laden, which, with other nations and at other times, 
has drawn men to the Son of Man.f 

* Judges vi., 25-32. 

t The work of Olaf Trygvess0n, as compared with that of Olaf 
Haraldss0n (the saint), has been admirably summed up by the Icelandic 
monk Odd when he says : " Olaf Trygvess0n prepared and laid the 
foundation of Christianity, but St. Olaf built the walls ; Olaf Trygvess0n 
planted the vineyard, but St. Olaf trained up the vine covered with fair 
flowers and much fruit." 


Such was, in brief, the religious condition of Norway 
when Olaf was chosen king ; for the interval between 
the death of Olaf Trygvess0n and the coming of Olaf 
Haraldss0n was so short that no material change had 
taken place, and there was not (as in the time of 
Haakon Jarl) any heathen reaction under the Jarls Erik 
and Svein. 

King Olafs rule in Norway was guided by two leading 
principles, which were manifested in all his actions First, 
the completion and development of the work which Olaf 
Trygvess0n had begun in christianizing the country ; and, 
Secondly, the consolidation of his kingdom by the establish- 
ment of the rule of a single monarch, making it, what 
Harald Haarfagre had designed it to be, one kingdom, 
under one king, and the subjection of the petty kingdoms 
which that great man in his old age, to the manifest injury 
of the land, had established. These two principles are to 
be seen in all the actions which marked the eventful reign 
of King Olaf. They were so closely connected that, as we 
read the history of the time, it is hard to say whether the 
king's journeys through Norway, more nearly resembled an 
episcopal visitation or a royal progress. 

Olafs chief advisers in all ecclesiastical matters were 
Bishops Grimkell and Sigurd, and along with them there 
were of course priests.* Of their names we have no very 
certain knowledge, though two, Eudolff and Bernhard, 
are mentioned, but it is probable that Iceland, and not 
Norway, was the scene of their labours. There seems no 
doubt whatever that both Grimkell and Sigurd belonged 

* Adam of Bremen, Book II., Chap. lv., says : " He (Olaf) had with 
him many bishops and priests from England, by whose admonition and 
doctrine he himself prepared his heart for God, and intrusted his people 
to be guided by them. Amongst these Sigafrid, Grimkell, Rudolf, and 
Bernhard were renowned for their teaching and virtues." 

f This Rudolf seems to have returned to England in 1050, and to 
have become abbot of the Monastery of Abingdon. 


to the English Church, and were either Englishmen by 
birth or bringing-up. In any case their connection and 
inclinations lay in the way of Anglo-Saxon, and not 
German, Christianity. In England at that time there 
were of course, in the eastern counties, a large number of 
clergy of Norse extraction, and naturally Olaf would have 
selected them to accompany him to Norway, on account 
of their knowledge of the language and customs of the 
Northmen. Political reasons also, at the time of Olaf s 
adventurous journey to Norway, would have prevented 
his applying to Bremen, the metropolitan see of the North 
of Europe, for it was in close connection with Denmark, 
where Knut the Great ruled, and whose authority over 
Norway, Olaf went to dispute. Later on in Olaf s reign, 
it is true, he had to apply to Bremen for help in his work, 
but the reason for that was again political, and not eccle- 
siastical. His enemy Knut was in power in England, and 
supplies from that country were, to a certain extent at 
any rate, practically stopped, as the English bishops would 
not have wished to consecrate or ordain men, for service 
under the rule of the antagonist of such a powerful king 
as Knut the Great. 

It is best perhaps at this point to speak of the work of 
Olaf as a Church lawgiver. We have no certain informa- 
tion as to the exact period in which he drew up his 
Christian code, but it was doubtless within the first ten 
years of his reign. He was too wise and far-seeing to 
have postponed it longer than was absolutely necessary, 
but he had first to establish his power in the land before 
he began the great work of his life. Olaf saw clearly from 
the commencement of his reign, that if heathenism was to 
be entirely eradicated from among his people, it was 
necessary that the laws of the land should be brought into 
conformity with Christian usages and customs. He there- 
fore set to work to draw up a Christian code. Snorre tells 


us that he had often read to him the laws which Haakon 
the Good had given to Tr0ndelagen, but these had not 
any direct reference to Christianity. Then he decided that 
a new code should be drawn up, which would embody all 
those points in which Christianity affected the life of the 
people. It would seem likely that for this purpose Olaf 
called together an assembly of his bishops, clergy, and 
other learned men at Moster, a spot sacred as the place 
where his great predecessor, Olaf Trygvess0n, had landed, 
and where he had built a church. This gathering does not 
appear to have been an ordinary Thing, but partook some- 
what of the nature of a synod, at which the laity were 
represented equally with the clergy. The code there 
agreed upon was known as Olaf's Kristenret, and it is 
always spoken of as the joint work of Olaf and Bishop 
Grimkell. This Kristenret Olaf seems to have taken round 
the country with him, and, having been read and explained, 
it was adopted by the great Things, and thus became a 
part of the law of the land. The original form of this 
law has not survived. What we now possess dates from 
the time of Magnus Erlingss0n (1155 1184), though 
possibly it may belong to the reign of Eystein (1103 
1123). There can be no doubt, however, that it embodies, 
with but little deviation, the original law which Olaf pro- 
mulgated, which had been preserved both orally and in 
written form. 

The scope of this law we give below, but it is interesting 
to note that it always claims the name and authority of 
the royal saint and his famous adviser, and the phrase is 
reiterated throughout " as King Olaf and Bishop Grimkell 
appointed at the Moster Thing." 

Much of this law was in accordance with the principles 
of the canon law, with which the king's English-bred 
bishops and priests must have been familiar, and in dealing 
with heathen practices the advice given by Gregory the 


Great to the Abbot Mellitus * was followed and heathen 
customs as far as possible christianized. 

It is important to note carefully the lines upon which 
this ecclesiastical legislation of Olaf proceeded, as in later 
times much controversy arose between the kings and the 
Church in connection with the Kristenret, and the former, 
at the commencement of their reigns, swore to observe the 
Kristenret " as given by Olaf the Saint." 

The new law did not aim at making any change in the 
methods of government or civil duties, except in so far as 
they were heathen. 

We may note them under different heads 

I. Purely ecclesiastical matters. 

(a) The building and maintenance of churches. 

(b) Church officials : their rights and duties. 

(c) The observance of the Holy days and Fast days. 

* Quoted by Bede, " Eccles. Hisfc." : " I have upon mature delibera- 
tion determined that the temples of the idols in that nation should not 
be destroyed, but let the idols that are in them be destroyed. Let 
holy water be prepared and sprinkled in the said temple, let altars be 
erected and relics placed, for if these temples are well built it is requisite 
that they be converted from the worship of devils to the service of the 
true God. That the nation seeing that their temples are not destroyed, 
may remove error from their hearts, and knowing and adoring the true 
God may the more familiarly resort to the places to which they have 
been accustomed. And because they have been used to slaughter many 
oxen in sacrifice to devils, some solemnity must be exchanged for them 
on this account, as that on the day of dedication, on the nativities of 
holy martyrs whose relics are there deposited, they may build themselves 
huts of the boughs of trees about those churches which have been turned 
to that use from temples, and celebrate the solemnity with religious 
feasting and no more ofler beasts to the devil, but kill cattle to the 
praise of God in their eating, and return thanks to the Giver of all 
things for their sustenance ; to the end that while some gratifications 
are outwardly permitted them they may more easily consent to the 
inward consolations of the grace of God." (Bk. 1, c. 30.) 

It is not a little remarkable that nearly 500 years after the above we 

8 2 




(d) Holy Baptism and the bringing up of Children. 

Exposing infants forbidden, except in case of 
monstrosities, who were to be brought to the 
church and primsigned, and then either killed 
or left outside the church to die. 

(e) Burials. All except outlaws and suicides were to 

be buried in the churchyard. 
(/) Marriage, and the forbidden degrees. 

II. Heathenism: the worship of the gods an d witchcraft 9 
or Troldom. 

All this forbidden under the severest penalties. 

III. Heathen social customs. 

The reforms in this respect dwelt largely with the 
assemblies known as 0lgerdir, social gatherings at which 
beer was solemnly drunk in honour of the gods. In former 
days these took place in the heathen temples after the 
great blots, when the presiding chief, or whoever conducted 
the ceremonial, gave the skaal or toast in honour of Thor, 
Freya, &c. In accordance with the guiding principle of 
the English mission, it was decided not to suppress these 
social events, but to give them the sanction and approval 
of the Church. The law provided for their continuance, 
and directed that where three families could meet together 
and have a common feast, skaals were to be drunk (the 
beer having been first blessed) " in honour of Christ and 
the Blessed Virgin for good years and peace." Fines were 
imposed for a breach [of these regulations. The 0lgerdir 
were usually held at stated times, but it is not certain 
whether they were held exactly at the same time as the 

find the custom of building booths survived in the north of England. 
In the " Boldon Book " it is mentioned that villeins near Auckland 
were bound as part of their services to their Lord (the bishop) to erect 
eighteen booths (bothas) at the fair of St. Cuthbert. 


old heathen blots, or, according to some authorities, on All 
Saints' day, Christmas, and St. John the Baptist's day. 

IV. Abolition of slavery. 

In the olden days it was the custom to offer up thralls 
as sacrifices to the gods before the Thing began, and there 
was doubtless a great deal of cruelty practised towards the 
slaves. But the coming of Christianity to Norway, as 
elsewhere, soon made a change in this respect. Instead of 
sacrificing a thrall at the Thing, the law provided that one 
should be set free. This was to take place on the first 
Sunday during the meeting of the Thing. It was also 
provided that one should be liberated every Christmas. 

Such is an outline of the legislation which Olaf and his 
advisers introduced in order to make the laws in harmony 
with Christianity. We must not think that exactly the 
same law was accepted over the whole land. Modifica- 
tions were made in different districts, as, for example, in 
the south-eastern part of Norway, in Viken, where we do 
not find the laws respecting the 0lgerdir, or the liberation 
of thralls. The reason for this very possibly is, that in that 
part of the country the work of the earliest missionaries 
had rendered such legislation unnecessary.' 55 ' 

We are now able to resume the history of Olaf 's work 
after this long, but necessary, digression. 

Having thus made preparations for bringing the law of 
the land into conformity with Christianity, Olaf determined 
to carry out his work in a thoroughly systematic manner, 

* A remarkable collection of the ancient laws of Norway is now to 
be found in the Norges Gamle Love, in five large volumes, published 
by the Norwegian Government at intervals between 1846 and 1895. 
They contain all that now remains of the laws of the early part of 
the middle ages, including the law of older Gula, Frosta, Eidsiva, and 
Borgar Things and various Kristenretter ; and also a vast variety of 
documents relating to both Church and State. 


and to leave no part of Norway, from Haalogaland to 
Lindesnses, without the knowledge of the Christian faith, 
without a church and without a teaching priest. 

To give a detailed account of all these journeys, and the 
way in which he often coerced his unwilling people, would 
occupy too great a space, as it is a subject on which the 
writers of the Sagas have given most abundant information. 
It is impossible, however, to pass it over, as the history of 
his reign is essentially the history of the foundation and 
organization of the Church of Norway. But as there is so 
much similarity between the incidents recorded in the 
struggle against heathenism, it will be sufficient only to 
describe the most striking scenes in the conflict. 

After being formally accepted as king, he began his 
systematic work in Viken, the same district where his 
famous namesake wisely made his first attempt. Little or 
no opposition was encountered in this part, as the inhabitants 
had, for a very considerable period, been more or less under 
Christian influences. 

At the close of the year 1017 he passed from his newly- 
founded town of Borg (Sarpsborg) to the district known as 
the Oplands, that part of Norway lying around the Mi0sen, 
the largest lake in the country. Here he found abundant 
scope for his labours, for those parts of Norway which lay 
away from the coast line, had been but little affected by the 
efforts of Olaf Trygvess0n, and the Oplands, Gudbrandsdal 
and Valders were the last to receive Christianity. 

In the Oplands, Olaf acted with extreme severity, and 
indeed barbarity, against those who refused to be baptized 
death or horrible mutilations awaited those who resisted the 
king. The same treatment was bestowed on all, high and 
low alike. 

While this was going on a dangerous conspiracy was 
hatched against the king. In the Oplands there still 
remained five petty kings or chiefs, and they quickly saw 


that it was the intention of Olaf to get rid of all royal 
power except his own. They had consented to Olaf s 
accession to the overlordship, and hoped to have been left 
in peace. The chief conspirator was R0rek, who had his 
home at Eingsaker, on the Mi0sen. The plot was betrayed 
to the king, who, by a rapid move, secured the five kings. 
E0rek was blinded, another had his tongue cut out, and 
the other three were banished. The only remaining petty 
king in Norway was now the harmless Sigurd Syr, Olaf s 
stepfather; but in the winter of 1018 he died, and from that 
time onwards there were no more of these kings. Sigurd Syr 
had by his marriage with Olaf s mother, a son who was after- 
wards to play an important part in the history of Norway, 
and we shall meet with him again as Harald Haardraade. 

King Olaf remained in the south for a considerable time, 
as the state of affairs with Sweden demanded his attention. 
The Swedish king had become so unpopular with his 
subjects that he was forced to accept his young son, Aanund 
Jacob, as under-king. After prolonged negotiations a 
permanent peace was arranged between Norway and 
Sweden, and the former country received back again the 
provinces which had fallen to Olaf of Sweden's share, after 
the division of Norway between Svein Tjugeskjseg and the 
two jarls, which was his reward for the help given at the 
battle of Svolder. The peace with Sweden was further 
cemented by the marriage of Olaf to Astrid, the daughter 
of the Swedish king. These matters interrupted for a time 
King Olaf s crusade against heathenism, and it was the 
summer of 1019 before he was able to go north to Nidaros. 
That year and the one following were devoted to the 
districts north of Trondhjem, Namdalen, and Haalogaland, 
where he made systematic investigations, built churches, 
and appointed priests to minister to the people, and at the 
various Things which he called, he had the Kristenret 


The harvests in these years had been very bad, and the 
king had reason to suspect that the b0nder, seeing in their 
misfortunes the wrath of the old gods (as they had formerly 
noticed in the days when Harald Graafell and his brothers 
destroyed the temples for their spoils), had begun again to 
offer sacrifices at the old appointed times. In this he was 
not wrong, and the evil was not far off. At the northern 
end of the Trondhjem Fjord was the place of the great 
heathen gathering (Mseren), where Olaf Trygvess0n had 
destroyed the image of Thor and where Jernskjsegge had 
been slain. The chief man in that part was now 01ve of 
Egg, and Olaf sent for him demanding an explanation of 
the rumours which had reached him. 01ve was a very 
astute man, and contrived to satisfy the king with a plau- 
sible explanation as to the gatherings at Meeren. This was 
in October of 1020, and again after the January feast he 
seems to have been able to give reasons which at any rate 
the king listened to, and took no further steps. It was, 
however, quite true that the old heathen rites had been 
revived and sacrifices offered. Olaf was by no means 
satisfied that all was well, and kept a careful watch, and 
when the time of the sommer blot (which was held in April) 
came round, he made a sudden descent on Mseren and 
caught the crafty 01ve and a large number of the b0nder 
in the very act of sacrificing. 01 ve was promptly put to 
death, along with others, and his property confiscated, and 
the rest were severely punished and afterwards feared to 
resist the king's will. 

Olaf now resumed his work in the central parts of 
Norway. He sailed from Nidaros, and leaving his ships at 
the entrance to the Eomsdal, went over into the great 
Gudbrandsdal, which at that time was ruled with almost 
royal authority, by the famous chief, Dale Gudbrand, whose 
family had given the name to the valley. At Hundthorp 
the chief resided, and it was a centre of heathen worship. 


A long and picturesque account is given in the Sagas of the 
way in which Olaf and his men destroyed the image of 
Thor and conquered the antagonism of the b0nder, but it 
is unnecessary to give it in detail. The result was the 
same as in other places they were all baptized and a 
church was built, and a priest left to teach the people. 

From Gudbrandsdal he went south and east, everywhere 
spreading the faith and laying the foundation for future 

It would seem likely that it is about this period that 
we must place Olaf s application to Archbishop Unwan of 
Bremen for help in his work, by sending to him clergy to 
minister to his people. The reasons which led Olaf to take 
this step we have already noted. All, or nearly all, of his 
first clerical helpers came from England ; but at this time 
the authority of Knut the Great was firmly established, and 
as that monarch regarded Olaf as an intruder who declined 
to recognize his overlordship, it was practically impossible 
for the Norwegian monarch to receive any longer the help 
which he had at the beginning. Under these circumstances 
the king had to look elsewhere, and the nearest and most 
convenient place was the great Metropolitan see of the North 
at Bremen. It is curious that the Norwegian authorities at 
this time are silent on this point, and it is to Adam of Bremen 
alone that we are indebted for the information. There seems 
no reason to doubt the fact, which is so plainly stated by 
Adam, especially when we know that there was practically 
no other course open to Olaf, but to apply to Bremen. 

Just about the time of Olaf s expedition to Norway, Arch- 
bishop Libentius died (1013), and his successor was Unwan, 
who held the see from 1013 to 1029. He was a monk of 
Paderborn, and was much liked, especially by his clergy. 
It was to this man that Olaf turned for help. Adam, 
without clearly indicating the date, says : " He (Olaf) sent 
also ambassadors to our Archbishop (Unwan) with gifts, 


praying that he should receive these bishops kindly, and 
would send some of his own bishops to him, who should 
strengthen and confirm the rude Norwegians in the faith." 
How far the petition of King Olaf was answered by the 
Bremen Archbishop we have no certain means of knowing, 
and it would appear that not long after it was preferred, 
Olaf himself was a fugitive from his native land, and only 
returned to meet his death on the fatal field of Stiklestad. 
In 1023 we find him in the south and west, from whence 
he passed to the districts of Sogn and Valders. The last 
named was a region more isolated than other parts of 
Norway, as the vast mountain district, now known as 
the Jotunheimy cut it off from the north, and wild moun- 
tain ranges from the west and south. With his customary 
rapidity Olaf reached the Lille Mi0sen lake, and called a 
Thing where his proposals with regard to Christianity were 
very unfavourably received, but the king with great 
skill managed to avert an outbreak and set the b0nder 
quarrelling among themselves. Then at night he seized 
their boats and began to attack and burn the farms, 
each man rushed off to save his own, and when their forces 
were divided, the king was able to bring them to terms. 
Then he followed the long chain of lakes which extends 
through the district, not being strong enough in men, to 
risk the land journey, but everywhere carrying out the 
purpose he had in hand, and providing Christian teachers 
to carry on the work. 

The next year, 1024, may be said to have witnessed the 
completion of Olaf s great work. Norway, from one end 
to the other, was at any rate nominally Christian ; the laws 
had been brought into conformity with the new faith, and 
only in secret could sacrifices be offered to Odin and Thor. 
"There was no remote valley or outlying island in his 
kingdom," says the Saga, " where a heathen man could 
be found." 


We must now turn to the events which led up to the 
fall of Olaf's power in Norway, his expulsion and subse- 
quent return and martyrdom. It was not to be expected 
that such a powerful and ambitious monarch as Knut the 
Great, would be content to lose the supremacy which he 
claimed over Norway without an effort to regain it. In 
the earlier years of Olaf's reign, however, Knut was too 
much occupied in consolidating his authority in England, 
though he did not forget his claim on Norway. In the 
year 1025 he sent a messenger to Olaf ordering him to 
appear before him in England and receiving back Norway 
as a fief from the Danish king, to render the tribute 
which the jarls had paid to Svein. We can well imagine 
how such a message would have filled Olaf with rage, for, 
next to the spread of Christianity, the consolidation and 
independence of his kingdom was the great object of his 
life. He heard the ambassadors to the end, and then 
dismissed them with his answer to the mighty Knut. 
" Bring him my words," he said ; " I will defend Norway 
hill and dale as long as life is granted to me, and I will pay 
skat to no man for my kingdom." 

After this Olaf saw that he must prepare to defend his 
crown, and he knew well the mighty power which Knut 
could wield. He accordingly formed a defensive alliance 
with his brother-in-law, Aanund Jacob of Sweden, and got 
his fleet together. 

Knut the Great was in Eome, on his pilgrimage, in 1026, 
so just then they felt safe from attack. The allies decided 
to strike the first blow, and with their united fleets they 
made a descent on Denmark. On the approach of Knut 
they retired, and a fierce but indecisive battle was fought 
at Helgeaaen, in Skaane. The Swedish fleet dispersed, and 
Olaf, not finding himself strong enough to resist Knut 
alone, left his ships in Skaane, and went overland to Viken. 
Knut had been at work for some time in endeavouring to 


seduce the great chiefs in Norway from their allegiance to 
Olaf. In the north Haarek of Thjotta, Einar Thamber- 
skj elver, Thore Hund, and Kalv Arness0n were all ready 
to take part against their king ; the latter had received 
from Olaf the land of the heathen 01ve of Egg, and was 
a very powerful chief, who owed much to the king. In 
the south, the great Erling Skjalgss0n of Sole was also 
ready to join with the king's enemies. Thus we see all 
the most prominent men in the country, who had felt the 
severity with which Olaf ruled, and who knew that in his 
justice he had the same law for rich and poor, were all 
united against him, and ready to sacrifice their national 
independence for the hope of personal gain and power. 

There was also at this time in the land, among the 
people generally, a feeling of hostility against the king. 
The extreme severity of the way in which he had treated 
those who resisted his efforts in spreading Christianity had 
raised up enemies on all sides, and many of the b0nder 
thought that a change might let them have their own 
way a little more. Indeed, a very decided reaction had 
set in. Olafs ea.rly popularity was on the wane, but 
the feeling of hostility was not directed, as we might 
have supposed, so much against Christianity, as against 
the king personally. 

When, then, Knut, with a great fleet, sailed for Nidaros 
in 1028, there was no one to stand against him, and Olaf 
did not dare to resist. Knut was recognized as overlord, 
and Haakon Erikss0n (the last of the great jarls of Hlade), 
in spite of his oath to Olaf in 1016, became governor 
under Knut. Then the conqueror sailed to Borg, and 
meeting with no resistance, thus " won Norway without 
a sword stroke." While this was happening in the summer 
of 1028 Olaf, with a few men and ships, lay at Drammen, 
but Knut did not apparently think it politic to attack him. 
When Knut had left the country, and the winter came on, 

C.S.N. G 


Olaf emerged from his retreat and sailed round the coast. 
As he went along, he had the good fortune to capture in 
Bukken Fjord, the old chief Erling Skjalgss0n, and intended 
to hold him as a hostage, but one of the king's men, most 
unfortunately for Olaf, slew the captured chief. This act 
raised all that part in arms against the king, and he sailed 
further north, and had reached S0ndm0re when he learned 
of the approach of a superior force from Nidaros. Seeing he 
could neither advance nor retreat, the king sailed up the 
Slyngs Fjord as far as Sylte, and there left his ships, and 
with a handful of devoted followers started in the depth of 
winter over the mountains. After great hardships he came 
at last to Einabu, in the Gudbrandsdal, and from thence to 
Hedemarken. He had now no alternative but to leave 
Norway, and taking his wife and two children with him, 
and his faithful friend Bishop Grimkell, he went to 
his brother-in-law in Sweden, where he spent the winter. 
When the spring of 1029 came, he left his family in 
Sweden, and proceeded to his other brother-in-law, 
Jaroslav, who was king in Gardarike, and there remained 
for some time. 

Meanwhile the government of Norway seems to have 
gone on quietly enough under Haakon Jarl, as Knut's 
representative. In the summer of 1029 he went to 
England, where he was married, and in the autumn set 
sail on his return home ; but nothing more was ever heard 
of him or the ship, and it is supposed that he perished in 
a storm. Thus ended the male line of the great jarls of 
Hlade, who, for close upon a hundred years, had played 
such an important part in the history of their country. 
The death of the jarl under such peculiar circumstances, 
was regarded by many of the people as a judgment of 
Heaven upon him, for the breach of the oath which he had 
taken, never to oppose the right of King Olaf to the throne 
of Norway. 


After the death of Haakon, Einar Thamberskj elver was 
now the greatest chief in the land, and he had been 
allowed by Knut to cherish hopes of being ruler of the 
country under the king. When the loss of Haakon and 
his ship became known, Einar at once sailed for England, 
and, to his intense chagrin, learned that he was not to be 
jarl in Norway, for Knut intended to place his son Svein 
there as governor. 

While these events were happening, the fugitive, King 
Olaf, remained at the court of Jaroslav in Gardarike. He 
seems at first to have made up his mind to abandon all 
thought of returning to Norway, and to have contemplated 
a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to be followed by retire- 
ment to a religious life. There is no doubt that during 
the time he spent in Kussia the natural religious bent of 
his mind was much deepened, and the enforced period of 
inactivity enabled him to learn something more of the true 
spirit of the faith, for the outward establishment of which 
he had been so zealous. He must have regretted the many 
acts of cruelty of which he had been guilty towards the 
heathen, and have seen that there was a better way than 
the sword and mutilation, of advancing the cause which he 
had so much at heart. That a real change in him took 
place in this respect, is most evident by his actions in his 
last campaign. 

Notwithstanding his wish for a pilgrimage, he could not 
forget Norway : ever and anon his thoughts went back to 
his much-loved native land. In a dream he seemed to see 
his great predecessor Olaf Trygvess0n, who urged him not 
to abandon the work which he had undertaken, and a 
longing seized him to return to it. At this time the 
tidings came that Haakon Jarl was lost, and Norway was 
again without a ruler. In the spring of 1030 he decided 
to make an effort to regain his crown. Leaving Gardarike, 
he returned to Sweden to Aanund Jacob, who allowed him 



to collect men for the purpose of the invasion. He went 
to Jeemtland, in the northern part of Sweden, and was 
joined by a number of men (some of them were outlaws), 
who were attracted by the hope of plunder; which, however, 
was not realized. Crossing the mountains, he descended 
towards the Vserdal, a wide and open valley which goes from 
the neighbourhood of the present town of Levanger towards 
the Swedish frontier. On his way he was joined by his 
young half-brother Harald, the son of Sigurd Syr, who 
brought a welcome reinforcement of some five hundred 
men from Viken. 

The last few weeks of Olaf s life are related with much 
minuteness by the writers of the Sagas, and are full of 
episodes which are probably inaccurate, and added in later 
times to enhance the glories of the national saint ; but there 
is undoubtedly in the romantic story, a very large element 
of truth as well, and which coincides with what we know 
of the king's character. We are told that good Bishop 
Sigurd came to him and foretold his approaching death, 
but Olafs purpose was not to be shaken. In a dream 
on the day of the battle, he saw a ladder set up on earth 
and the top reaching to heaven, and he himself just on the 
point of gaining the highest rung, when he was awakened. 
He seems clearly to have foreseen that the struggle in which 
he was now engaged was to be the last of his life. 

When the forces of the king had crossed the mountains 
he set himself to number his army, and found he had with 
him about 3,600 men. Further investigation revealed the 
fact that of these, no less than 900 were heathen. Olaf at 
once made it clear that all under his banner must be 
Christians he offered them the alternative of being baptized 
or leaving his host. " We will/' said he, " not rely on our 
numbers, but place our trust in God, who by His power and 
mercy can give us the victory, but I will not mix heathen folk 
with my men." Of the nine hundred, four hundred were 


at once baptized and confirmed, and the others left the 
king's force. 

Olaf s adherents at once urged on him the importance of 
harrying the country around them in the customary way, 
in order to strike terror into the land, but the king sternly 
forbade them. He pointed out that where he had done this 
before, it was because they had resisted the true faith. 
" We had then," he said, " God's law to defend, but now 
they have broken faith with me and acted treasonably 
against me, and that deserves much slighter punishment. 
. . . There is much greater reason to show leniency towards 
those who wronged me, than to those who showed their 
hatred of God." 

Meanwhile the supporters of Knut had not been idle. 
Tidings of the projected invasion had reached Norway, but 
it was not at first known from what point the attack would 
be made, and preparations were begun in the south, in case 
hostilities should commence in that direction. When, 
however, it was discovered that Olaf was approaching from 
the north-east, at once all the chiefs who supported Knut, 
went with their men to Tr0ndelagen. The principal leaders 
of the rebels against Olaf, were Thore Hund, Kalv Arness0n 
and Haarek of Thjotta,* and they got together a very con- 
siderable body of men (largely out-numbering the king's 
force), and estimated at no less than 14,400. It seems, 
however, that this total must have been largely in excess of 
the actual figure. 

It must not be imagined that the coming battle was one 
entirely between Christians and heathen, for as we have 
already seen, Olaf had almost altogether expelled heathenism 
from the land, at least the open profession of it. 

But those who opposed the king were in the main the 
survivors of the old heathen party ; the chiefs hostile to 
Olaf had, however, on their side an ecclesiastic in the person 
* Einar Thamberskjelver prudently held aloof at this critical time. 


of Bishop Sigurd, who had officially been attached by Knut 
to the retinue of his son, as court bishop. He was a man 
of most violent temper, and with the most bitter invective 
urged on the b0nder to attack the king, painting Olaf and 
his men as monsters of iniquity, and wound up with telling 
them that " the only thing to be done is to advance against 
these inhuman monsters, and to slay them, casting them 
forth for the eagles and the wolves, leaving them where 
they have fallen, unless you drag away their bodies into 
remote corners of the woods, and let no man dare to carry 
them to the church, for they are all Vikings and men of 
evil deeds." 

This atrocious advice was happily not carried out after 
the battle, though at the time it was given, it was greeted 
with applause by the b0nder. 

The rebels now held a conference of their chiefs to select 
a leader to command their army, and it was first proposed 
that Haarek of Thjotta should lead the host, but he declined, 
and finally the choice fell on Kalv Arness0n. 

The armies of the king and the rebellious b0nder drew near 
to each other, at a spot called Stiklestad, in the Vserdal, not 
very far from the place where the river, which flows through 
the valley, enters the Trondhjem Fjord. Olaf s army seems 
now to have numbered somewhat over 3,000 men, but the 
forces of the rebels were much more numerous. The king 
divided his men into three divisions he himself commanded 
the centre, the Swedish contingent was on the right, and 
the rest, under Dag Hringss0n, on the left. The forces of 
the b0nder were similarly arranged Kalv Arness0n and 
Thore Hund in the centre, the men from Eogaland, Horda- 
land and Sogn on the left, and those of Komsdal, Namdal, 
and Mseren on the right. 

Olaf did not forget that he came as a champion of the 
faith, and not merely a king striving to recover his temporal 
power. He chose as the battle-cry of his army, " Christ's 


men! Cross men! King's men!" ; while the rebels' cry was, 
"Fram, fram (onward, onward), b0nder!" In the early 
morning all Olaf s army made their confession and received 
the Communion. It is said that the king at this time gave 
a sum of money in order that, after the battle, prayers 
should be offered for the souls of his enemies who might fall 
in the fray. 

Before the actual conflict began, and when the armies 
stood facing one another, Olaf made a final but ineffectual 
appeal to the leaders of the b0nder who had sworn allegiance 
to him, to return to their duty. We are also told that he 
made the offer to his own men, that if they had relations in 
the rebel army against whom they desired not to fight, 
they could, even then, leave the ranks. No one accepted 
this generous offer, though one man on the king's side had 
two sons in the opposite army. 

Then the battle joined and raged fiercely. The royal 
army was, as we have seen, greatly out-numbered, and to 
add to their misfortunes, a large part of the men under Dag 
Hringss0n's command did not come into action until the 
issue was practically decided. The king fought with his 
usual courage in the thickest of the fray, and his men fell 
all around him. In the ranks of his foes was a man named 
Thorstein, who had sworn to be avenged on the king for the 
capture of a trading vessel which he had owned. Pressing 
forward he struck Olaf a severe blow on the knee. Unable 
to stand, the king leaned against a rock and prayed to God 
for help. Then his foes closed around him. Kalv Arness0n 
is supposed to have given the next blow, which fell upon 
the king's neck, and then Thore Hund thrust his spear into 
Olaf, inflicting a mortal wound from which he almost at 
once expired. 

When the king fell, the battle practically ended. The 
remains of the king's army sought refuge in the woods, whence 
they escaped. A remarkable change seems to have come 


over the victors. Their previous intense animosity suddenly 
died down, they refrained even from plundering the slain, 
and gave them Christian burial. 

Thus fell Olaf, king and martyr, on a day long to be 
remembered in his native land. With his death his passing 
unpopularity ended, and his memory was ever after held in 
grateful remembrance in the country for which he had done 
so much. 

Strange as it may seem, the exact date of the battle is 
rather difficult to determine. The Sagas appear to be 
unanimous that it was fought on Wednesday, July 29th, 
1030, and the 29th of July was kept as the festival of the 
sainted king, from within a very short time of his death. 
But there is, before accepting this implicitly, an important 
point to be considered. The same authorities which fix 
July 29th as the date of the battle, are equally clear in 
stating that the sun (which when the battle began had 
been shining in a cloudless sky) became darkened, and 
a blackness as of night, for a time prevailed. This of 
course betokened an eclipse of the sun, and we know for a 
certainty, that a total eclipse of the sun took place on 
Monday, August 31st, 1030, which was visible in Vcerdalen. 

It is clear, therefore, that if the eclipse took place during 
the battle, the date of it must be August 31st, and not 
July 29th. But then how was it possible that an error of 
a whole month took place, and the date fixed as July 29th 
by the very men who had taken part in the struggle ? 
There seems, however, a possibility of reconciling these two 
statements. It may be taken that the traditional date of 
July 29th is the correct one, not August 31st, and for this 
reason. We shall see later that the saintship of Olaf very 
rapidly seized hold of the popular imagination, and that, for 
political purposes, it was encouraged to the utmost, by the 
chiefs like Einar Thamberskj elver, and therefore the writers 
of the life of the saint, and of the narrative of his death or 


martyrdom, would not be likely to omit what (to a super- 
stitious, and only half-Christian people) would be such a 
manifest sign of Divine displeasure as an eclipse. They 
therefore incorporated into the narrative of the battle, the 
mysterious darkness of the total eclipse which fell over the 
north of Norway, just a month after the king had been 
slain. This may very possibly be the explanation, and it 
seems the only way by which the traditional, and by the 
Church universally accepted, date can be vindicated. 

Meanwhile Thore Hund and the leaders of the rebel 
army, had pursued after the scattered remnants of the king's 
forces, which were retreating as rapidly as possible to the 
forests. It was their intention on their return to secure 
the body of Olaf, and either to burn it or cast it into the 

When evening fell, a bonde of Stiklestad named Thorgil 
and his son Grim, found the body of the king and determined 
to save it from indignity. They carried it away and hid it 
under some fuel in a barn ; before concealing the corpse they 
washed it, and were struck with its extraordinary life-like 
appearance. Having hidden it, they returned to their house 
hard by. Meanwhile a blind man, who was seeking shelter 
for the night, crept into the barn and accidentally wet his 
hands with the water on the floor, where the corpse had 
been washed, and touched his eyes with his hands. Find- 
ing the place too small and damp he came out, and 
discovered that his sight was restored to him again. Going 
to the house he told the story, which filled all with wonder 
as to what could be in the barn. Thorgil and his son were 
alarmed lest the body should be found, and hurriedly took 
it away into another place. 

Thore Hund on his return sought everywhere for the 
king, but being unsuccessful left the place. The faithful 
Thorgil and his son now resolved that the king's body 
should be conveyed to Nidaros, but knowing the danger 


which attended such a course, they went to work warily. 
Two coffins were made ; in one he placed the king, and in 
the other stones and sand of the weight of a man. Then 
with the aid of friends on whom they could rely, they hid 
the coffin containing the royal body under the boards of 
the boat, but placed the other coffin where all men could 
see it. Then they rowed down the fjord to Nidaros. * 
On reaching the town Thorgil sent word at once to 
Bishop Sigurd, that he had brought the body of Olaf. This 
unlovable prelate was delighted to hear the news. He at 
once dispatched his men in a boat to meet them, and when 
they had got the coffin with the stones and sand in it, they 
rowed out into the fjord and threw it overboard, and 
returned to their master with the information that their 
errand had been accomplished. Then Thorgil and his 
friends rowed their boat a short way up the Nid, and in 
the night-time secretly conveyed the coffin with the body 
of the king to land, and hid it in a hut on the river bank. 
Here it remained for a short time, but knowing well it 
would not be safe, and finding no one who would dare to 
take charge of it, they dug a hole in the sand on the river 
bank, and in it they placed the body. Carefully marking 
the spot, they started again before daybreak, and quickly 
made their way back to Stiklestad. 



Svein and JElfgifu as Knut's Representatives Discontent in Norway 
King Olaf s Body Disinterred His Saintship Proclaimed Growth 
of the Cult Magnus brought to Norway Independence secured 
again Reign of Magnus His Death Harald Haardraade 
Murder of Einar Foundation of Oslo St. Halvard Conflict with 
the See of Bremen Letter of Pope Alexander II. 

WITH the fall of Olaf at the battle of Stiklestad, it seemed 
as if the forces of disintegration had triumphed, and the 
cause for which the king had worked so laboriously during 
the eventful years of his reign had come to nought. Once 
more Norway was to become subservient to Denmark, and 
both Church and State were deprived of the strong hand 
which had built up the one, and guided the destinies of the 
other. But it was not so. Of Olaf the Saint it might well 
be said that " the dead which he slew at his death were 
more than they which he slew in his life," and far from the 
destruction of the cause for which his life was given, it 
gained in a very short time a fresh power and impetus, 
and the name and fame of the royal martyr was carried far 
beyond the limits of the northern kingdom, even, it is said, 
to the capital of the Eastern Empire. 

Knut the Great had sent his young son Svein as Governor 
to Norway, in the place of the last jarl of Hlade. As 
Svein was but a lad, he was accompanied by his mother, 
Alfiva or ^Elfgifu, an imperious and overbearing English- 
woman, who but little understood the independent spirit 
which actuated the Norwegian b0nder. They landed in 
Viken about the time of the battle of Stiklestad, and shortly 


after arrived at Nidaros, where Svein was accepted as 
king. The rule which the young prince instituted, under 
the direction of his mother and the Danish chiefs who ac- 
companied him, was at once very distasteful to the people, 
and the imposition of new taxes made them very unpopular, 
If there was one thing more than another to which the 
Norwegians clung, it was the laws which had been passed 
by the great assemblies at Frosta and other places, and the 
b0nder found that if Olaf had ruled with a strong arm, he 
had, at any rate, ruled them under their own laws and 
customs, and not according to Danish law and usages, 
and they soon began bitterly to repent of their rebellion 
against him. The great chiefs, like Einar Thamberskj elver, 
Kalv Arness0n and others, found also that the change had 
done them no good, and their privileges were no more than, 
and indeed in some ways not so great as, they had been 
under their native king. Discontent spread everywhere, 
but none of the chiefs were ready to risk an open rebellion. 
The man who seemed the natural leader was Einar, who, 
as has been mentioned, took no part in the battle of Stik- 
lestad, and who, in his early days, had been a devoted 
adherent of the race of Haarfagre. 

The discontented chiefs, however, thought it prudent to 
attain their ends by religious and not political means. The 
Danish court bishop Sigurd had done his best to bring the 
Norwegian Church into close connection with Denmark, 
and therefore with the see of Bremen, and it was probably 
during the short time that he was at Nidaros, that the 
Benedictine Monastery at Nidarholm (a small island in the 
Trondhjem Fjord, close to the town, now called Munkholmen) 
was first established. Sigurd, however, was so unpopular, 
that by the influence of Einar Thamberskj elver, he was 
obliged to leave Norway, and Bishop Grimkell, the com- 
panion and fellow-worker with Olaf, was brought back 
again. The National party, as we may term them, now 


decided that the time had come to declare King Olaf to be 
a saint and martyr, and for this purpose they obtained 
formal permission from Knut to re-inter the body of the 
king. We have seen how Thorgil of Stiklestad had managed 
to convey it safely to Nidaros, and had secretly buried it 
in the sand on the bank of the Nid, the exact place being 
of course, carefully noted. 

On August 3rd, 1031, the principal men, including 
Bishop Grimkell and Einar, in the presence of the young 
prince and his mother Alfiva, had the body disinterred. On 
the coffin being opened the body of Olaf was found to be 
perfectly preserved ; his hair and nails had grown, his 
colour was lifelike, and a beautiful odour pervaded the air. 
All these things were clear proofs of saintship, and the on- 
lookers were filled 'with wonder and amazement. The only 
sceptic was Alfiva, who maintained that a body buried in 
sand would not decay. The bishop, however, offered to 
test the matter by cutting off some of Olaf s hair and placing 
it in the fire, where, if it remained unconsumed, there could 
then be no doubt of the saintship. This was done with con- 
secrated fire, and, surviving the test, all were forced to 
admit that the late monarch must indeed be a saint. Then 
the body was carried with great state into the church of 
St. Clement, which Olaf Trygvess0n had built, and there 
buried before the altar. 

The cult of St. Olaf then proceeded with amazing rapidity, 
helped on as far as possible by Einar and others for 
political purposes, and the young king and his mother dared 
not openly oppose it, as the disinterment and reburial after 
the proved sanctity, had been done with their formal consent. 
The usual miracles were soon everywhere reported ; the 
blind saw, the lame walked, and the sick were healed. 

Thore Hund, who had given the king his death blow 
in the battle, was struck with contrition for his heinous 
offence, and endeavoured to expiate his crime by going on a 


pilgrimage to the Holy Land, from whence he never returned. 
Olaf was declared to be a saint by Bishop Grimkell, and the 
verdict of the Church was formally ratified by the law of 
the land. Two days were set apart in St. Olaf s honour 
July 29th as the day of the martyrdom, and August 3rd 
as, what we may call, the Translation of St. Olaf, being the 
day on which the body was disinterred from the sand and 
brought for burial to the church of St. Clement. It may be 
well to mention here the curious number of changes which 
were made in a short period, before the final resting-place in 
the Dom Kirke was reached. From St. Clement's it was 
moved to a church dedicated to Olaf by his son Magnus, 
which was built on the spot where the body of the saint lay 
for one night on its arrival in Nidaros. In the next reign, 
that of the saint's half-brother, Harald, it was moved to a 
church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, built by that king on 
the bank of the Nid, where Olaf had been buried for a year. 
Then Olaf Kyrre built another church, known as Christ 
Church (close to the Maria Kirke of Harald), and the body 
was taken to it. Finally, when the present cathedral was 
built, during the time of Archbishop Ey stein (1157 87), 
both of the latter churches were incorporated in it, and the 
body was placed in a magnificent shrine at the high altar, 
a,nd there it remained until the time of the Keformation. 
The actual spot of the year-long burial is supposed to be 
where St. Olaf s well is now shown in the cathedral of 

After the formal acknowledgment of Olaf s claim to be 
regarded as a saint, things went on in about the same way 
for a couple of years ; but the hatred of Danish rule deepened 
in the minds of the people, and all their love for the race of 
Harald Haarfagre returned in greater force, when they saw 
how badly they had treated one, who was not merely a king 
of his line, but also one of the saints of God. Still, however, 
Einar and the other chiefs played a waiting game, and felt 


that the time had not come to make a move. In 1033 a 
passing disturbance was caused by an adventurer who 
claimed to be a son of Olaf Trygvess0n, and who raised the 
standard of rebellion in the south, but he was soon defeated 
and slain in a battle fought in S0ndhordland. Shortly after 
this, a violent altercation between the Danish party and 
Einar, which broke out at a Thing held at Nidaros, led to 
the departure of Svein and Alfiva to the south, as they 
felt it was unsafe for them to remain in Tr0ndelagen. 
Then Einar, who had rightly gauged the popular feeling, 
called the people together to a Thing and proposed that 
Magnus, the young son of St. Olaf, should be chosen as king. 
This was unanimously agreed upon, and Einar and Kalv 
Arness0n were deputed to go to Gardarike to the Court of 
King Jaroslav and bring back the young prince to Norway. 
Their mission was successful, and they returned through 
Sweden, where Olaf s widowed queen was then residing 
with her brother. Young Magnus was at this time only 
eleven years old, but he was everywhere received with open 
arms by the delighted people. Svein and his mother first 
intended to resist the newcomer, but finding that the 
country was entirely hostile to them, they took refuge in 
Denmark, and thus in 1034 the Danish supremacy was 
once more swept away. 

Knut the Great died in England in 1035, and was 
succeeded by his son Harald ; Svein died in Denmark in 
1036, and for a time the rule of Magnus over Norway was 

The early years of King Magnus's reign passed quietly 
under the wise guidance of Einar and Kalv Arness0n, and 
the abolition of the harsh laws and exactions of the 
Danish king made the people contented. Meanwhile 
Hardeknut had succeeded his father Knut as king of 
Denmark, and made an effort to regain the lost power over 
Norway. Before matters went very far, the leading men 


on both the Danish and Norwegian side arranged, after a 
conference held at the G0tha river, that whichever of the 
two kings survived, should have the two kingdoms. This 
dangerous compact might have made the subservience of 
Norway to Denmark again an accomplished fact, but the 
death of Hardeknut in 1042 changed the situation, and 
Norway and not Denmark became the sovereign State. 
The political result of this was unfortunate for Norway, as 
it meant a great waste of blood and treasure, and though 
for a time it exalted the position of the northern State 
among the nations of Europe, it was but a drawback to the 
prosperity of the country. When Magnus took the govern- 
ment into his own hands he embarked on the very unwise 
course, of attempting to be avenged on those who had 
taken part in the rebellion against St. Olaf. The old chief, 
Haarek of Thjotta was killed, and Kalv Arness0n, who by 
his zeal for Magnus's succession might have been thought 
to have atoned for his share in Stiklestad, was obliged to 
fly to the Orkneys. But after a time Magnus had the 
sense to see how unwise and unfair his action was, and 
abandoned his thoughts of revenge. By his just and 
kindly rule he became more beloved by his people than 
any king since the days of Haakon, and the epithet " The 
Good/' which the former had won, was everywhere accorded 
to Magnus. 

One very important work was accomplished in his time. 
He reduced the laws of the Frosta Thing to writing. 
Formerly it would seem, that these laws were more of the 
nature of customs, and were preserved orally, but Magnus 
had them written out, and his compilation or code, under 
the curious name of " The Grey Goose/' remained in use in 
Tr0ndelagen for close upon 200 years. 

The Danish sovereignty, though it was in many ways a 
danger to Norway, brought the king much renown, especially 
after his great defeat of the Vends in 1044, which effectually 


stemmed the tide of Sclavonic invasion in that part of 
Europe, and spread the fame of the young king and his 
sainted father, far and wide. 

The year that followed the victory over the Vends 
nearly witnessed another of the many dynastic struggles 
which had before rent the kingdom. Harald, the son of 
Sigurd Syr, and the king's half-uncle, had after the battle 
of Stiklestad, gone to Constantinople and taken service 
under the Eastern Emperor, where he won a great reputation 
as a warrior. He returned to Norway, and demanded half 
of the kingdom. This was refused, and Harald retired to 
Sweden, and later joined Svein Ulfss0n, the new claimant 
for the Danish Crown. The year after, however, Magnus 
agreed to Harald's demand, but stipulated that the kingdom 
was not to be divided ; there were to be no more under- 
kings in Norway, but they were to reign jointly. How 
this unwise plan would have worked, there was no 
opportunity of judging, for Magnus the Good died suddenly 
in 1047, and Harald reigned as sole king. Denmark was 
now separated, and Svein Ulfss0n reigned there. 

The short reign of Magnus was not remarkable for any 
important ecclesiastical events, beyond of course the growth 
of the cult of St. Olaf, and the building of churches in 
different parts of the country. In his reign a magnificent 
silver shrine for the body of St. Olaf was made ; the king 
kept the keys of this, and every year is said to have cut the 
hair and nails of his father. After Magnus's death Harald 
Haardraade did the same thing, but on his departure for 
the great expedition against his English namesake, he 
threw the keys of the shrine into the sea, and two centuries 
then elapsed before it was again opened. 

The unexpected death of Magnus the Good removed the 
probability of disputes between the kings in Norway, and 
there was no one to contest the claims of Harald. The 
new monarch possessed many of the characteristics of the 

C.S.N. H 


race of Haarfagre, and his near relationship to the royal 
saint made him at first very popular with his people. But 
along with great personal courage and skill in war, he had 
a very strong will, and was often guilty of great cruelty 
in the prosecution of his ends, and his subjects had soon to 
learn that he was no light and easy ruler of either chief or 
people. The name by which he was known, Haardraade, 
the hard or stern ruler, was well deserved by the king, and 
his power was felt in all parts of the land. 

The political history of his reign need not long detain 
us, though it was an exciting time, and the death of the king 
at the hard-fought battle of Stamford bridge is well known 
to all readers of English history. A great part of the king's 
reign was taken up with his constant warfare against Svein 
Ulfss0n, king of Denmark.* Harald could not forget that 
his predecessor Magnus was king both of Norway and 
Denmark, and although success often attended his arms, he 
was finally obliged to make peace with Svein in 1064. 

His hard rule in Norway naturally aroused the resent- 
ment of the great chiefs, who had had an easy time under 
the mild rule of Magnus. Foremost in the opposition to 
the king was the old chief Einar Thamberskj elver, who, 
along with his son Eindride, was treacherously murdered 
by the king's command at Nidaros. " Hard bites the king's 
dogs," said the old chief as he fell by the spears of Harald's 
servants. The death of Einar removed the most prominent 
figure in the history of Norway for nearly sixty years ; as 
a youth and far-famed archer, he had fought beside Olaf 
Trygvess0n in the battle of Svolder, and had witnessed all 
the strange vicissitudes which had befallen his royal race 
for more than half a century. One could have wished that 

* The fierceness of his attacks on Denmark is well described by Adam 
of Bremen, who was, however, in this matter, not an impartial witness : 
" Nunquam quietus fuit a bellis, f ulnien septentrionis, fatale malum 
omnibus Danorum insulis." Book III., Chap. xvi. 


he had met with a more honourable death after his many 
services to his country. 

This murderous act aroused a deep feeling of hostility 
against King Harald, and the people of Tr0ndelagen rose 
in arms to avenge the death of their beloved chief; but the 
king was too strong for them, and the insurrection was soon 

In 1066 he joined with Earl Tostig (brother of Harold of 
England) in his attempt to regain his power there, and with 
a great fleet set sail for England, where he fell in battle 
against Harold at Stamford bridge near York on September 
25th, 1066. 

Before we advert to the ecclesiastical politics of the reign 
of Harald Haardraade, there is one event which must be 
mentioned, and which, indeed, had both political and 
ecclesiastical importance. This was the founding of the 
town of Oslo, which is now the capital of Norway, and 
bears the name of its second founder, Christian IV., who in 
1624, after a fire at Oslo, built the new town close by. 
Harald, as we know, was closely connected by birth and 
friendship with that part of Norway, and he probably saw 
that the Tr0ndelagen district had an undue share of 
political importance in the land. To counteract this, and 
to balance the growing power of Nidaros (which after the 
saintship of Olaf had been established had received a con- 
stantly increasing number of pilgrims) he determined to 
found in the south, a town which might rival Nidaros. 
Furthermore, he provided the town with a saint as well, who 
was afterwards regarded as one of the three patrons of Norway, 
Halvard of Huseby, who was his own and St. Olaf s first 
cousin. It is a little difficult to see where Halvard's claim 
to saintship comes in. He was the son of a wealthy bonde 
named Vebj0rn who lived at Lier, a spot but a few miles from 
the present town of Drammen. His father married Thorny, 
the sister of Aasta, wife of Sigurd Syr, and mother, by her 



first husband, Harald Grenske, of St. Olaf, and by her 
second, Sigurd, of Harald Haardraade. Halvard seems to 
have been a very estimable man and to have carried on a 
considerable business as a Baltic merchant. One day he 
chivalrously rescued a woman from some men who were 
attacking her, and brought her over the Drammen river. 
He was, however, followed, and killed along with the woman 
he had saved for the time. His murderers tied a stone to 
his neck and threw his body into the fjord. It, however, 
refused to sink, and this circumstance, with the other usual 
signs, proclaimed Halvard to be a saint, and his claim was 
soon acknowledged by the Church. When Harald founded 
Oslo he had his kinsman's body brought thither, and buried 
in a church which bore his name, and Halvard became, to 
the people of the south of Norway, a saint second only in 
rank, to his royal cousin at Nidaros. 

Harald was not merely a hard ruler in the affairs of State, 
but he showed himself none the less stark in ecclesiastical 
matters. He decided in his mind that he was to be the head 
of the Church, as well as of the State. Early in his reign 
the assertion of this principle brought him into conflict 
with Bishop Bernhard, and the consequence was, that the 
bishop was obliged to leave Norway and go to Iceland, 
where he remained during the whole of Harald's reign. 

A vastly more important conflict, however, arose with the 
see of Bremen, which was held, during the greater part of 
Harald's reign, by a prelate of as strong and unbending a 
will as that of the king himself. 

We have already seen that the connection of Norway 
with the archiepiscopal see of Bremen (notwithstanding 
the fact that it had received papal authority over all the 
Scandinavian lands) was not a very close one. It depended 
largely on political considerations, and also it must be 
borne in mind that the ecclesiastics whom the two Olafs 
brought with them were nearly all Englishmen, either by 


birth or education, and looked to Canterbury, and not 
Bremen, as the see to which they owed allegiance. The 
application of St. Olaf to Unwan of Bremen, for help in his 
work, was made at a time when he could not expect any 
substantial aid from England. The early bishops in Norway 
were not diocesan officials, but were merely men in episcopal 
orders, who went with the kings into a heathen land to 
spread the faith, and the priests who accompanied them 
were, until St. Olaf s day at any rate, not as a rule fixed in 
one place, but accompanied the king and the bishops on their 
journeys. These men were not likely to let the claims of a 
metropolitan make any very great impression upon them, 
even when backed by papal authority, and they always 
retained the sturdy English dislike to foreign ecclesiastical 
rule, which was so often manifested in the history of the 
English Church. 

In 1043 the see of Bremen was filled by the appointment 
of Adalbert, who held it for a period of twenty-nine years. 
He was a strong and worldly-minded man, not specially 
renowned for his sanctity, and with an ambition equal to 
that of a Hildebrand. He entertained very lofty projects 
for enlarging the power and authority of the see of Bremen, 
and, it is said, hoped to have made it a sort of patriarchate 
of the North. He found, however, that he was not able to 
carry out all that his personal ambition suggested, and it was 
not long before he crossed swords with Haardraade.* The 
king had been accustomed to have his bishops consecrated 
in different places, but chiefly in England. These bishops 
had no love for Adalbert, and it was their refusal to attend 

* For the details of this controversy between Harald and the see of 
Bremen, we have only the testimony of Adam of Bremen and his 
scholiast. It must be borne in mind that there was a not unnatural 
prejudice against the Norwegian Church, which manifests itself here and 
there, in spite of the general reliability of this famous historian of the 
North. See the "Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum." Book 
III., Chap, xvi., and Scholiast, 69. 


which caused the failure of an ambitious project of the 
archbishop, for a great synod of the North to be held at 
Slesvig. These bishops naturally declined to acknowledge 
the authority of the see of Bremen, and Adalbert was 
equally determined on his part to assert it. During the 
constant war with Denmark in Harald's reign, his bishops 
were consecrated in various places in England, in Aqui- 
taine by the Pope, and even by the Eastern Church at 
Constantinople, where Harald had many friends. Adalbert, 
however, watched his opportunities, and as the bishops 
who were returning to Norway, had, as a rule, to pass 
through his diocese, he caught and imprisoned them until 
they were ready to swear obedience to the see of Bremen. 
It is said that Asgaut, nephew of Grimkell, when returning 
from Eome, was one who suffered in this way. Adalbert 
did not hesitate to accuse Harald of plundering the shrine 
of St. Olaf, and taking the gifts which were offered there, 
for the purpose of carrying on his wars a charge probably 
true ; but Harald was not quite as black as Adam paints 
him in his Chronicle. 

Adalbert now decided to take another line. He found 
that imprisoning bishops who had just come from being 
consecrated at Eome, might possibly entail unpleasant con- 
sequences later, and also that promises of allegiance extorted 
by imprisonment, were not likely to be much regarded when 
once the bishop was safe in the kingdom of Norway. He 
therefore took the more regular course of sending messengers 
to Harald with a formal claim to exercise the rights of a 
metropolitan over the Norwegian bishops. In making this 
claim it cannot be said that Adalbert was exceeding his 
lawful powers ; for when the archiepiscopal see of Hamburg 
was founded in 834 (?) for Ansgar, and transferred, as we 
have seen, to Bremen in 849, it was expressly intended 
by the Kaiser to be the head of a new province, to include 
the three Scandinavian kingdoms, and this was confirmed 


by Pope Nicholas I. in 8 5 8.* But, on the other hand, it must 
be remembered that Norway never formed any part of the 
Roman Empire, and therefore the Kaiser had no special 
claim upon it, or authority to enforce his will there,and also 
that the christianizing of Norway was the work of English, 
and not German, missionaries, except to a limited and 
uncertain extent in Viken. Adalbert, however, was, from 
his point of view, quite in order in making a demand, for 
which he could claim the authority both of Pope and Kaiser. 

The archbishop's ambassadors were the bearers of a letter 
to the king, which was worded in a manner little calculated to 
conciliate such a man as Harald Haardraade. In it Adalbert 
lectured the king on his iniquities in appropriating for his own 
uses the treasury of the shrine of St. Olaf, and, further, with 
not having his bishops consecrated in Bremen, and thereby 
acknowledging the metropolitan authority of that see. 

This letter filled Harald with fury, and he sent Adalbert's 
messengers back to their master with the scornful words : 
" I know of no archbishop or ruler in Norway save myself, 
Harald, alone." 

Having received this response to his demand, Adalbert 
decided to invoke the papal aid, and laid his case before 
Alexander II. The Pope supported his metropolitan, and 
despatched a letter to King Harald. In this he reminded 
the king and his people of his apostolic authority. He 
pointed out to them, that they in Norway, were as yet but 
comparatively unlearned in the faith and in all matters of 
Church discipline, and ended up with an exhortation, or 
rather command, that they should submit themselves to the 
Archbishop of Bremen, and yield the same obedience to him 
as they should show to the chair of St. Peter.| 

* This again was confirmed by Pope Victor II. (1055) in a bull which 
recognized the right of the Bremen archbishops to consecrate bishops in 
Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Greenland. 

t Adam. Book III., Chap, xvi., and Scholiast, 70. 


This letter is a notable document as being the first papal 
brief sent to Norway. It, however, met with no more 
consideration than Harald had shown to the messages of 
Adalbert, and the Norwegian king was equally indifferent 
to the threats and thunderings of Bremen or Rome. While 
he lived, affairs remained in the same state ; but this was 
not long, and his successor, Olaf Kyrre, was ready to admit 
the authority of Bremen without any question. Shortly 
after his death the claims of Bremen were no longer in 
existence, as Lund, in Skaane, at that time a part of the 
kingdom of Denmark (1104), was made the metropolitan 
see of the North. 



Olaf the Peaceable and his Character Development of the Country 
Viking Expeditions come to an End Gilds Established Magnus 
Baerf0tte Lund made a Metropolitan See Three Kings in Norway 
The Crusade of Sigurd Harald Gille Last Years of Sigurd 
Bishop Magnus Death of Sigurd. 

WHEN Harald Haardraade fell at Stamford bridge, he 
left behind him two sons, Magnus and Olaf, and they 
divided between them the royal power. Happily for 
Norway this state of things did not long continue, for 
Magnus died in the year 1069, and Olaf became sole king. 
Magnus left one son, but as he was only a little child, his 
claim was not then brought forward. 

The reign of Olaf, who is known as Olaf Kyrre, or the 
Peaceable, was a period of much peace and quietness for 
the land, which was sorely needed after the constant warfa,re 
of Harald' s reign. Olaf was a man of a most gentle and love- 
able disposition, and seems to have in every way deserved 
the name he bore. He devoted the whole of his reign to 
improving the condition of his people. We are told that 
his motto was, " The freedom and happiness of my people 
is my joy and pleasure." 

The Church in Norway found in Olai Kyrre a true 
" nursing father," and it advanced much in power and 
authority during his reign. We find an interesting account 
of the king in the Chronicles of Symeon or Simon of Dur- 
ham, a Benedictine monk, who died in 1143. He tells 
us of a monk named Turgot, who having been imprisoned 


in Lincoln, effected his escape, and concealed himself on 
a Norwegian vessel and reached the court of Olaf Kyrre. 
" He attained " (says the Chronicle) " to the acquaintance 
of King Olaf, who, as he was of a very religious turn, was 
accustomed to the use of the sacred writings, and cultivated 
learning amid the cares of his kingdom. He was wont also 
to assist the priest at the altar, and when the latter was 
putting on the sacred vestments he would pour water on 
his hands and devoutly perform other offices of this kind. 
Hearing, therefore, that a clerk had come from England 
(which at that time was reckoned an important event), he 
took him as his master in learning psalmody." * 

The reign of Olaf Kyrre was a time during which 
Norway was practically at peace with all other nations, 
and therefore there is but little to chronicle in the political 
history of his reign. It was not, however, a time which 
passed by without leaving its impress on subsequent events. 
To it we owe the beginnings of two very important cities. 
Olaf Trygvess0n had founded Nidaros, afterwards known 
as Trondhjem ; Harald Haardraade established Oslo, the 
future Christiania; and now Olaf, his son, added two 
more towns, which are well known at the present day 
Bergen and Stavanger. The former was originally known as 
Bj0rgvin, and the site was well chosen for purposes of trade, 
the deep watera nd well-sheltered position making it easy of 
access for shipping. The town soon grew to be a place of 
importance, to which the comparative nearness of Evenvik 
(where the great Gula Thing, which legislated for the south- 
west of Norway, met), probably helped not a little. Stavanger, 
lying a hundred miles further south, was a good centre for 

* Symeon of Durham's " History of the Kings," translated by the Rev. 
J. Stevenson. Turgot after his return to England, was subsequently prior 
of Durham and bishop of St. Andrew's ; he died at Durham in 1115. 
Selden and others believe that Turgot was the real author of the history, 
which bears the name of Symeon of Durham. 


trade, and was at that time the nearest port to England and 
the possessions of the kings of Norway beyond the seas. 

Olaf did all in his power to encourage trade and to induce 
his people to adopt a more settled mode of life than had 
formerly been their custom ; and his reign is usually fixed 
as the time when we note the practical ending of the famous 
Viking cruises, which for more than three hundred years 
had made the Northmen the terror of the coasts of Europe. 
The political results of these famous expeditions are " writ 
large " upon the history of nearly every country of modern 
Europe ; and it fills us with wonder that such a small 
nation as Norway, even when aided by like adventurous 
spirits from Denmark and Sweden, should have been the 
means of effecting changes, the results of which are still 
visible in Europe. 

The increase of trade which the foundation of new towns 
called forth, naturally led also to an increase of civilization, 
and to a decided improvement in the mode of life of the 
people, who gradually, especially in the retinues of the 
king and the greater chiefs, adopted the customs and habits 
of the more civilized peoples of Europe, and the semi- 
barbarous life of the early days began to pass away. 

In the king's own household changes are noted from the 
old fashion of a fireplace in the middle of the room, with a 
hole in the roof for the escape of the smoke, to a regular 
chimney in the corner, and windows were placed to give 
light in the room. Costly drinking-cups of silver began 
also to replace the horns and bowls from which, in ruder 
times, the king and his men drank their beer. 

Olaf increased the royal retinue, which had formerly been 
small, to one hundred and twenty men, sixty of whom were 
huskarls ; and we can also note the beginning of a body of 
what might be called, high court officials. 

Olaf was a great builder of churches, and the most 
important of these were Christ Church, in Nidaros, to which 


the body of St. Olaf was removed, and which was afterwards 
incorporated in the cathedral; and another Christ Church 
in his new town of Bergen, which was later on, the cathedral, 
but which was ruthlessly destroyed in the sixteenth century. 

From an ecclesiastical point of view, two very important 
things date from Olaf Kyrre's reign, namely, the division 
of the country into dioceses of which we shall speak 
presently and the establishment of Gilds among the 
people, the members of which were bound by very 
strict obligations to help one another; and the gild 
brothers were expected to set a good example in the 
matter of " temperance, soberness, and chastity." 

The king saw that it would be a wise step in the 
direction of softening the manners of the people and 
promoting social union, to establish in the towns these 
associations, which were known among the other branches 
of the Teutonic nations.^ It would not appear that at first 
these Gilds were especially connected with any one trade 
or calling, as was afterwards the case, but were open to all. 
They were held in buildings called gilder stuer, or gild 
rooms, and, though not directly religious, were closely 
connected with the Church. A short office was often said 
at the commencement of the gatherings, and the members 
were expected to live decent and sober lives. The associat- 
ing together of people for purposes partly social and partly 
religious was, as we have seen, of very ancient origin among 
the Norsemen, and the filgirdir, originally heathen gatherings, 
where skaals were drunk in honour of the gods, were main- 
tained under Olaf's Kristenret, and the names of our Lord 
and the Blessed Virgin substituted for Thor, Odin, &c. 
The name Gild was not an unknown one in the form gild for 
a feast, which, in heathen days, had always some religious 
observances connected with it. Thus it was at a gild at 

* See Lujo Brentano's article, on the " History and Development ot 
Gilds," in English Gilds (Early English Text Society), London, 1870. 


Hlade that Olaf Trygvess0n announced to the astonished 
b0nder his intention of offering six of their chief men, as a 
sacrifice at the great winter blot.* 

It was during the reign of Olaf Kyrre that the great 
struggle between Pope Gregory VII. and the Kaiser 
Henry IV. was carried on. Norway was not involved in 
this, though the metropolitan, Archbishop Liemar of 
Bremen, was the warm and faithful friend of the latter ; 
but Olaf remained neutral. The Pope was naturally 
anxious to have as many as possible of the sovereigns of 
Europe on his side during the conflict. He wrote in 1078 
to the king in very friendly terms, expressing the great 
interest he felt in the Church there. But recognizing the 
difficulties attendant on sending him teachers, who were 
not conversant with the language of the country, he 
suggested that the king should send a number of young 
men to Koine, to be trained up in Canon law and Eoman 
usages, who, on their return, might instruct the people. It 
is difficult to say if this idea was ever carried out, though we 
know that, after Breakspeare's mission, the intercourse with 
Eome was, considering the great distance, very frequent. 

Olaf died at Haukby, in Eanrike, in 1093. His body 
was conveyed to Nidaros, where it was interred in the 
church which he had built, and where his sainted predecessor 
then reposed. 

The short reign of Olaf s son and successor, Magnus, who 
at the age of twenty years became king, need not detain 
us long. At his father's death he had to share the kingdom 
with his cousin Haakon the son of Magnus, his father's 
brother. As usual, it seemed likely that a conflict would 
arise between the two, especially as Haakon was much loved 
by the people and Magnus was unpopular; but Haakon 
only lived for two years, and died in 1095 without leaving 
any son, and Magnus was therefore the sole king. Most of 

* See p. 50. 


his short reign was spent in warlike expeditions, and the 
cost of these provoked much discontent among the b0nder, 
who, during the peaceful time of Olaf Kyrre's reign, had 
escaped contributions for such purposes. Magnus was known 
among his people as the " fighting Magnus," but the surname 
which has been given to him in history is that of Barfot, or 
Baerf0tte, from the fact that he was so pleased with the 
freedom which the Scottish kilt afforded to the Gaelic 
warriors, that he and his men adopted it ; and so he was 
nicknamed Barelegs, or Baerf0tte. 

His battles in Scotland belong to the history of that 
country, and the king finally met his death in conflict with 
one of the Irish chiefs in Ulster in 1103. 

The same year in which the King was slain, saw the 
erection of the see of Lund, in Skaane, to metropolitan 
dignity, and therefore the close of the long controversy 
with Bremen ; and from that time for nearly fifty years 
(until the first archbishop of Nidaros), the Primates of 
Lund were the metropolitans of Norway. 

The death of Magnus, and the operation of the unwise law 
of succession, saw now not merely two, but three persons 
entitled to the royal dignity. The late king left three sons, 
Eystein, Sigurd, and Olaf, who were at his death of the ages 
of fourteen, thirteen, and four years respectively. The two 
elder, being of legal age to rule, became joint kings, and 
acted as guardians of their young brother, who, however, 
died at the age of eighteen, leaving no issue. 

The first few years of the joint reign of the two lads 
Eystein and Sigurd were peaceful and orderly times. 
Eystein inherited the disposition of his grandfather Olaf, 
while Sigurd desired to emulate the warlike deeds of his 
father. When he reached the age of seventeen his oppor- 
tunity came. It was the time which succeeded the first 
Crusade, and the religious fervour of these extraordinary 
enterprises quickly reached Norway. The old Viking 


expeditions had been abandoned, but now an opportunity 
presented itself of warfare of the same kind, only it was 
directed against the enemies of God and the Holy Church, 
and for the purpose of delivering the holy places from the 
grasp of the infidels. King Ey stein elected to remain 
behind, and Sigurd joyfully equipped a great fleet and 
army, with which to proceed to the Holy Land. Both kings 
shared the cost, and the people, without any compulsion, 
eagerly offered themselves for service. In sixty ships, and 
with about 10,000 men, Sigurd left Norway in 1107. 

As it was late in the season when they sailed, the winter 
was, by permission of Henry I., spent in England. " After 
expending vast sums upon the churches, as soon as the 
western breeze opened the gates of spring to soothe the 
ocean he regained his vessels," * and set sail in the early 
part of 1108. Proceeding slowly along the coast of France, 
the winter of 1109 was spent in Galicia. As they passed 
through the Straits of Gibraltar they had an opportunity of 
slaying the infidels, as they encountered and defeated a 
large Moorish fleet. Thence they made for the Balearic 
Isles and Sicily, where a considerable time was spent, and 
in the summer of 1110 they came at last to Palestine, 
where Sigurd was received at Jerusalem with great honour 
by King Baldwin and the Patriarch. 

Sigurd then visited many sacred spots, and the Holy 
City, and received a portion of the true Cross, which 
he duly carried back to Norway. After leaving Jeru- 
salem, he assisted Baldwin in the attack on Sidon, which 
was captured, a result largely due to the Norwegian 
fleet. Snorre tells us that during his visit to Jerusalem 
Sigurd vowed to introduce into Norway the payment of 
tithes, which promise he did not forget on his return home. 

From Sidon, Sigurd sailed for Myklegaard (Constanti- 
nople), where he was welcomed by the Emperor Alexius L, 
* William of Malmesbury. Book V. 


and received many splendid gifts, and in return presented 
" a ship beaked with golden dragons " to the Church of St. 
Sophia.^ Leaving the whole of his fleet at Constantinople, 
he travelled overland to Denmark, via Hungary and 
Bavaria, and reached home in 1111, crowned with glory 
from his successful expedition. From his having under- 
taken this crusade, he was henceforth known as Sigurd 
" Jorsalfarer," the traveller to Jerusalem. 

This participation in the Crusades produced results in 
Norway similar to those in England, and other countries of 
the north of Europe. It brought a large number of the 
people into direct communication, with the civilization and 
luxury of the south of Europe, and the products of " the 
gorgeous East," and was therefore of educational value to a 
people who had seldom, if at all, come in contact with the 
more polished Latin races. We can well understand with 
what wonder the men who had only been accustomed to 
rough wooden churches, or very bare and simple stone 
ones, such as we now find at Moster or on Kinn, must 
have gazed on the stupendous pile of St. Sophia, or the 
wealth of gilding and colour of many buildings which 
they met with during the Crusades. It seems not at all 
improbable that they brought back from their stay in the 
East, many ideas which were afterwards put into practice 
in their own land. Witness, for example, the klokketaarn, 
which we find built alongside some of the stavkirker of 
Norway, such as Ringebu, in Gudbrandsdal, and Borgund, 
in Lserdal, and there we will find the way in which the 
Norwegians reproduced the Campanile, f 

* Snorre says it was to St. Peter's. 

f It seems likely, also, that the curious laxetrapper (ladders or stages) 
erected along the shore for the purpose of watching the salmon nets, 
which are to be found in Norway, were brought from the shores of 
Greece, where similar structures for watching the movements of the fish 
have been in use since classical times. It would seem that these are 
only found in Norway and the Mediterranean. 

From a Photograph by] [T. Olaf Willson. 

HEAD OF KING EYSTEIN (1103-1123). 

The founder of the Monastery of Munkeliv, in Bergen. 

This carving, inscribed " Eystein Rex," is contemporary with 

the erection of the Cloister, 11071111, and is now in the 

Bergen Museum. 

[To face p. 112. 


During the long absence of Sigurd, his brother Ey stein 
had devoted himself to the development of his kingdom, 
and had ruled wisely and well. He did much to improve 
the greatest source of the wealth of Norway the fisheries 
and also looked closely after the inland parts of the country 
as well. The roads were improved, and in places where no 
regular road existed, but only an accustomed track, he 
caused varder or cairns to be erected to indicate the way. 
On one of the land routes to Nidaros, frequented by 
pilgrims to the shrine of St. 01 af, that over the bare and 
inhospitable Dovre Fjeld, he erected fjeldstuer, or houses 
of refuge; and travellers in our own day have often 
had cause to thank good King Eystein for the shelter 
which Hjaerkin, Fogstuen, or Drivstuen afforded them 
as they cross the Dovre. * The stay-at-home king also 
enlarged the borders of the kingdom by including 
within them the district of Jaemtland, now incorporated 
in Sweden. 

The applause which Sigurd had everywhere won by 
his famous crusade, made him inclined to be not a little 
vain and boastful on his return home, and several times 
it seemed as if a breach must ensue in the relations 
between the two royal brothers ; but prudent counsels 
prevailed, and the death of Eystein in 1123, without 
any male issue, left Sigurd in undisturbed possession of 
the kingdom. 

In 1123, on the invitation of the Danish King 
Nicholas, he went on a crusade against the inhabitants 
of Smaaland, in Sweden, who were at that time still 
heathen, but of the details of this expedition we know 
little or nothing. 

* Eystein was the founder of the great monastery of Munkeliv, in 
Bergen, dedicated to St. Michael, the archangel, and for centuries in the 
possession of the Benedictines, but in later days transferred to the 
Birgitta order. 

C.S.N. I 


In 1126 a claimant to the throne appeared in a very 
unexpected way. A man named Halkel Huk, of Blindheim, 
in S0ndm0re, met, in the western isles of Scotland, an 
Irishman calling himself Harald Gille-Krist,* who professed 
to be a son of Magnus Barfot, the king's father. Though 
admittedly an illegitimate son, he would, nevertheless, by 
the Norwegian law, be entitled to a share of his father's 
kingdom. He, accompanied by his mother, went to 
Norway to King Sigurd and repeated his story, and 
offered to prove his claim by trial by ordeal. To this 
Sigurd agreed, on the understanding that, if successful, 
Harald was to make no claim to the kingdom during his 
life, or that of his son Magnus. On these conditions 
Harald Gille submitted to the ordeal of walking barefoot 
over hot irons, and having accomplished this successfully, 
was recognized as the king's brother. This strange pro- 
ceeding was strictly in accordance with the law. It was 
the first instance in which trial by ordeal was employed to 
determine such an important question, but, unhappily for 
Norway, it was not the last. 

The concluding years of the reign of Sigurd the Crusader 
were sad and inglorious, and only redeemed by the brave 
stand made in the cause of morality by the bishop of 
Bergen. The king was much struck with the beauty of a 
woman named Cecilia, the daughter of one of his chiefs, 
and in order to marry her, he determined to put away his 
wife, Malmfrid, a Eussian princess. This he intended to 
do during a stay in Bergen, where he proposed to celebrate 
this scandalous marriage. But he reckoned without his 
host. To the honour of Magnus, bishop of Bergen, such 
an act was not to pass unnoticed. When he learned the 
king's purpose the bishop at once went boldly to him 
and demanded an interview. The king came to him 

* He is also known as Harald Gille. Gille-Krist is the gille, or 
servant, of Christ. 


with his sword in his hand, and invited the bishop to 
join in the feast which was then in progress. But the 
bishop, in the true spirit of St. John the Baptist, declined 
to do so. 

" I come on a different errand," said the fearless prelate. 
" Is it true, King, that you intend to put away your 
queen and marry another 1 " 

Sigurd reluctantly admitted that it was so. Then, with 
stern countenance, the bishop demanded how the king 
dared to transgress the commandments of God and the 
holy Church, and degrade his royal office. 

" In the name of God, and the holy King Olaf, and the 
Apostle Peter, and all the saints, I forbid this crime." 

The dauntless bishop stood with bent head, expecting 
every moment to be his last ; but the king merely glared 
at him and said nothing, and the bishop went his way 
rejoicing in having done his duty. 

The protest of Magnus was for the time effectual, and 
Sigurd left Bergen, without having accomplished his pur- 
pose, and proceeded to Stavanger. There, alas ! he found 
a bishop of less scrupulous conscience than Magnus of 

The first bishop of Stavanger was Keinald, who was an 
Englishman from Winchester ; he was a capable man, but 
grasping and avaricious, and in him King Sigurd found a 
tool to work his evil purpose. By means of large gifts the 
king induced the bishop to agree to his wishes, and Sigurd 
was married to Cecilia. It is sad to think that a bishop 
could be found in Norway to consent to such a crime, but 
he did not long enjoy his ill-gotten gains, and a shameful 
death befell him under Sigurd's successor. 

The closing days of the far-famed " Jorsalfarer " were 
rendered still more sad by the attacks of insanity to which 
he seems to have been subject, and in his lucid intervals 
he was filled with gloomy anticipations as to the future of 

i 2 


his native land. In 1130 he died at Oslo, at the compara- 
tively early age of forty years. He left behind him an 
only son, Magnus. He was illegitimate; but this was no 
bar to his succession to the throne, and Harald, the king's 
" acceptecl-by-ordeal " brother, was in the same case. 



The Early Missionary Bishops No Diocesan Episcopacy at First Its 
Establishment at the Four Centres The Cathedral Churches 
Parochial Organization Patronage The Churches of the Fylker 
and HerredHtgmdes Churches Ecclesiastical Incomes Duties 
of the Clergy, &c. Adam of Bremen's Testimony as to the State of 
Religion in Norway Tithe and its Apportionment The Coming 
of the Monastic Orders. 

THE death of Sigurd Jorsalfarer seems a suitable point 
at which to review the condition of the Norwegian Church 
during the century which had elapsed since the martyr 
king fell at Stiklestad. For Olaf the Saint, by his ecclesias- 
tical legislation, left his impress on the Church for a long 
period, and at this time we are enabled to estimate it better 
than fifty years later, when the result of the mission of 
Cardinal Nicholas Breakspeare, and the firm establishment of 
the monastic orders, led to changes in several respects, and 
Norway fell into line with the other Churches of Europe 
which owned allegiance to the Roman see. 

The earlier chapters have shown to us the thorough and 
systematic manner in which St. Olaf carried out his work, 
and the way in which he saw that, if heathenism was to be 
eradicated, it was necessary that the people should receive 
systematic instruction in the faith from resident priests, 
and that they should be in their turn, superintended by the 
bishops whom he, in the first instance, brought with him 
from England. 

Although the methods of St. Olaf would not always com- 
mend themselves to us, there can be no manner of doubt 


that the results which followed were very wonderful, and 
showed the extraordinary power of Christianity in trans- 
forming a rude, fierce nation of heathen into Christian 
men and women, whose lives were, in many respects, a 
pattern and example to those whose Christian ancestry 
exceeded by centuries that of the Norwegians. 

It will be well for us to consider the condition of the 
Church in Norway at the end of the first century of its 
existence under two heads (1) The external organization 
of the Church ; and (2) the manner in which Christianity 
affected the life of the people.* 

It must be borne in mind that from the period of the 
introduction of Christianity into Norway, down to the time 
of King Olaf Kyrre, there was no diocesan organization in 
the land. All the early bishops, the Sigurds and the 
Grimkells, were merely what we would call missionary 
bishops. They were consecrated in England and elsewhere 
to carry out the work of christianizing the North, and they 
followed the king in his journeys throughout the land, 
consecrating churches as they were built or adapted from 
the old temples, and along with their priests helping to 
baptize the multitudes who were so often obliged by force 
to receive the ordinance. Then, when heathenism was 
expelled, they had to confirm the people, and to ordain the 
natives, who had been prepared for holy orders by the priests 
who were placed in charge of the various churches, and to 
perform the duties which appertained to the episcopal 
office. Gradually, however, when things had settled down, 
it became necessary that the bishops should have assigned 

* Most of the details of ecclesiastical legislation referring to this 
early period will be found in the laws of the Gula, Frosta, Borgar, 
and Eidsiva Things ; chiefly in Vol. I. of the Norges Gamle Love. 
The reader is also referred to the very fall details given by Keyser in 
Vol. I., Chap, xx., of his Kirkes Historie, and to Chap. iii. of Bishop 
Bang's Udsigt over den Norske Kirkes Historie, &c. 


to them fixed parts of the country in other words, to 
establish diocesan episcopacy. The political condition of 
the country helped to facilitate this. We have noted that 
for legislative purposes, there were three centres where 
Things were held and the laws promulgated. These were 
Frosta (for Tr0ndelagen), close to the city of Nidaros ; the 
district under the Gula Thing, held at Evenvik, a little to 
the south of the Sogne Fjord, and not far from the newly- 
founded town of Bergen ; and Eidsiva, or Eidsvold, a little 
to the north of Harald Haardraade's town of Oslo. 

These local Things came gradually to consider themselves 
as entitled to a bishop in their immediate neighbourhood, 
and as it was a part of the episcopal duties to preach 
before the Thing, the towns of Nidaros, Bergen, and Oslo 
were naturally selected as the seat of the bishop, and the 
part of the country which met at the Frosta, Gula, and 
Eidsiva Things to form his diocese. But there was 
another and a very strong reason for the selection of those 
towns as the residence of the bishop. Norway, in the early 
days of its Christianity, was not rich in native saints, but the 
three towns were each closely identified with a national saint. 

Nidaros ranked first of all as the guardian of the body 
of the royal saint of Norway, whose cult was now spreading 
rapidly over the North ; then Oslo, where the shrine of St. 
Olaf s cousin, the sainted Halvard, had been placed by 
Harald Haardraade ; and lastly, Bergen, to which the relics 
of St. Sunniva were brought by Bishop Paul in 1170. For 
about one hundred years before Bergen became a cathedral 
city, it was the little island of Selje, which lay to the north 
of the Nordfjord, which was the seat of the bishop, and 
the ecclesiastical centre of the Gula Thing district. It 
was felt, however, after the founding of Bergen that that 
town was much better adapted for the residence of the 
bishop, than the small island of Selje, lying as it did off a 
part of the coast particularly exposed to the force of the 


northern ocean, and close to the always dreaded passage 
round the peninsula of Stadt. 

The three original dioceses of Norway were therefore, 
for political and religious reasons, formed from the districts 
attached to the principal Tilings, and hallowed by associa- 
tions connected with the three patron saints of Norway, 
St. Olaf, St. Sunniva, and St. Halvard.* The dioceses of 
Stavanger and Hamar were of later foundation ; the former 
town owed its origin to Olaf Kyrre, but it was not made 
the seat of a bishop until the reign of Sigurd Jorsalfarer. 
The erection of the Hamar bishopric was the result of the 
mission of Cardinal Nicholas in 1152. From the fourteenth 
century onwards Hamar, instead of Eidsiva, was the place 
where the meetings of the Thing were held. 

The cathedral churches of the thr^e_original sees, and, later, 
of Stavanger, seem all to have been dedicated to the Holy 
Trinity, but in two instances called Christ Church, j^ Bang 
says, as an explanation of this, " when these Trinity 
churches are more often called Christ Church, it is because 
Christ was, to the mind of the people at that time, the most 
prominent of the three Persons of the Godhead." On the 
other hand, it is said that this form of dedication is a trace 
of the English influence, and the example is quoted of the 
Cathedral of Canterbury, usually called Christ Church, but 
called in Domesday Book Ecclesia Sanctce Trinitatis. \ 

* It is a curious coincidence that Norway and Ireland, which were 
so closely connected in those days, had each three patron saints ; for 
the latter, the insula sanctorum, had St. Patrick, St. Bridget, and St. 
Columba as its patrons. Further, it may be noted that both countries 
had as patrons, two men and one woman. 

f Udsigt over den Nor she Kirkes Historie, p. 57. 

J Taranger's Den Angelsaksiske Kirkes Inflydelse, &c., p. 220. This 
writer quotes also the instance of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, 
which is really dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It is interesting, 
however, to note that it was founded by the Northmen, and was not 
the cathedral of the Keltic Church. 


The Christ Church in Nidaros was the original cathedral, 
afterwards incorporated in Eystein's great Dom Kirke. This 
church, we know, was built by Olaf Kyrre over the spot 
where St. Olaf 's body had been buried for a year in the 
sand beside the river Nid. The great Christ Church in 
Bergen (there was the little Christ Church as well) was the 
work of the same monarch. The Cathedral of Oslo was 
known as Halvard's Kirke, from the fact that the relics of 
the saint were there deposited, and, though probable, it is 
not certain that its original dedication was to the Holy 
Trinity. The same remark applies to Stavanger Cathedral, 
commonly known as St. Swithin's Church. It was probably 
so named by its first bishop, Reinald (who was a Benedictine 
monk from Winchester) in honour of the famous saint.* 

Such seems to have been the diocesan organization of 
Norway, which only became fixed about the close of the 
eleventh century. What we might call the parochial 
organization was more ancient, and was practically an 
adaptation of the system of heathen temples. We have 
already seen that the temples were of two kinds, the fylke 
hov and the herreds hov, and in the latter division 
there were also private temples belonging to the wealthier 

This arrangement remained practically unchanged on the 
introduction of Christianity, and so from the earliest times 
we meet with three classes of churches the church of the 
jylke, of the lierred, and what were called h0gendes 
kirker ; the last named might most correctly be rendered 
chapels-of-ease. It would appear that at the very beginning 
the most that the missionary kings could do, was to convert 
the fylke hov into a Christian Church, and make it a 
centre for the evangelization of the district. These fylker 
were many of them of very great extent, but, roughly 

* The observance of St. Swithin's Eve can still be traced in West 


speaking, they were the original parishes of Norway. The 
fylke churches were usually built on the site of the heathen 
temples, or the actual buildings were purified and made to 
serve for Christian worship. Gradually, however, when 
Christianity spread more widely through the land, it was 
found difficult, if not impossible, owing to the great distances, 
for the people to attend at the fylke church, and so the 
second kind of heathen temples were made into Christian 
churches. The herreds into which the fylker were divided 
offered a solution of the difficulty, and herreds Jcirker began 
to spring up over the country. These smaller parishes 
were practically independent of the fylke church, though 
at first certain rights were reserved for the church of the 
fylke with respect to baptisms and burials ; and its priest 
occupied the position of the rector of a very large parish, 
containing many churches, ministered to by priests having 
practically sole charge of them. Then by degrees these 
herreds churches became entirely independent of the fylke 
church.^ The h0gendes kirker were, as the name implies, 
chapels-of-ease, and were practically private chapels, erected 
by chiefs and others for their own convenience ; there were 
a considerable number of these scattered throughout the 
country. These chapels had not, as a rule, any burying 
ground attached to them. 

We are thus enabled to see what was the organization of 
the Church in the times which followed the introduction of 
Christianity. We now come to the question of patronage, 
around which in later times so much controversy raged. In 
the early days the matter was much more simple. The kings 
were the embodiment of power, not merely in the State, but 
in the Church as well ; and Harald Haardraade's boast was 
not far from the truth when in answer to Adalbert's envoys 

* In some parts of the country slightly different arrangements pre- 
vailed e.g., in Tr0ndelagen, where the fylker were not so large, there 
were sometimes two fylke churches, and that sufficed for the district. 


he exclaimed, " I know not who is archbishop or ruler in 
Norway except I alone." 

The earliest bishops were the friends, counsellors, and 
court chaplains of the kings, who ordered the clergy from 
place to place as seemed best to them. We therefore find 
that the appointment to the bishoprics was the preroga- 
tive of the kings, and jealously guarded by them. Sub- 
sequent history will show us how tenaciously they held to 
that right, and how unwillingly and grudgingly they finally 
allowed the chapters to make the election. 

With respect to the clergy generally, we find various 
kinds of patronage. To the fylke church the king in the 
early days presented, but gradually the bishops acquired 
the right. Even at first this was not the universal rule, for 
in the Gula Thing district the bishops seem always to have 
presented to these churches. 

The appointment to the herreds church partook of the 
nature of an arrangement between the bishop and the 
parishioners. The old law provided that the bishop was to 
nominate a priest to these parishes for a period of twelve 
months. If at the end of this time the priest had carried 
out the duties of his office in a manner satisfactory to the 
parishioners, then he obtained what we might call a freehold 
benefice, and could not be removed from his parish by the 
bishop except for some canonical reason. In later times it 
would seem that the privileges of the parishioners became 
disregarded, and they only had a right to make a protest 
against the episcopal nominee. 

The h0gendes churches, or private chapels, were naturally 
in the patronage of those who built and maintained them, 
and the bishop had no direct voice in the appointment. 

The incomes of the bishops and clergy in the time of 
which we are treating, were derived from various sources. 
It must be remembered that tithes in Norway only dated 
from the reign of Sigurd Jorsalfarer, who instituted them 


on his return from his famous Crusade. Before their 
establishment the episcopal income was mainly derived 
from what was called the biskopsrede, or bishops' tax. 
This was a poll tax on all males in his diocese. In addition 
to it he had a share in the fines which were levied for 
various ecclesiastical offences, and also the fees, sanctioned 
by law, for the performance of episcopal functions, such as 
the consecration of churches, &c. When tithes were 
introduced the old biskopsrede gradually ceased. 

The clergy of the fylke churches were in a somewhat 
better position than the rest of their brethren. In the 
heathen times there were frequently endowments given to 
the maintenance of the fylke hov, and these passed over to 
the Christian priests. The early Christian kings had also, 
in many instances, given grants of land for the support of 
the fylke churches. 

The provision for the clergy of the her reds churches was 
of a more uncertain nature, and it mainly consisted of 
voluntary contributions, and also of the legally-enforced 
fees for marriages, baptisms, burials, &c. The rest of the 
income was usually a matter of arrangement between the 
priest and his parishioners. The introduction of tithes, 
however, put an end to this. The income of the private 
chapels was of course provided by those for whose 
convenience they existed. 

The duties of the bishops and clergy were mainly the 
same as in other places, but care was taken by the various 
Kristenretter that they should be effectively carried out : 
the bishop was obliged to visit every parish in his diocese 
once a year, and to remain in it for three or four days. 
During his visitation tours he was brought on his way free 
of charge by the b0nder, and maintained during his stay 
by the priest and people. If the bishop failed to visit a 
parish he forfeited his claim on the biskopsrede from that 
parish for a year. 


The duties of the parish priests were prescribed with 
much minuteness in the old laws, and a list of the holy 
days upon which service was to be performed was drawn 
up. The keeping of these days, as well as Sundays, was 
strictly enforced, and fines appointed for any failure in this 
respect. The priest was obliged to keep his people 
informed as to the holy days, and a curious expedient was 
adopted for the purpose. The Gula Things law ordained 
that he should cut a cross before each holy day and send 
it round to every house in his parish " where smoke 
smoked/' The man to whose house it came, had to forward 
it to his neighbour, and so the scattered inhabitants of the 
large parishes were warned when the holy day would come, 
and were obliged to observe it strictly. A rigid observance 
of these days often caused much loss and inconvenience 
to the people, and we shall find later on that they obtained 
a special dispensation to continue the work of harvesting 
and fishing on them when necessity so required. In con- 
nection with funerals there were some curious customs. 
The priest had, before the funeral, to go to the house of 
the deceased and to sing a dirge over the body, as well as 
saying the appointed service in the churchyard. A few 
days after the burial a feast known as the Arve0l (lit. the 
inheritance beer) was held, at which the heir of the deceased 
entered upon his inheritance. At this ceremony the priest 
had to be present, and to bless the beer, and he, with his 
wife, sat in the high seat. This festivity was also known 
as the sjcele0l 9 because the beer was drunk in memory of 
the sjcel or soul of the departed. 

The position of the parochial clergy in the early times 
was not always an easy one. Later on when the power of 
the Church, under the guidance of the archbishops, had 
vastly increased, they formed a part of the well- drilled 
army of the Church in Europe, which often defied the 
power of kaisers and kings. But in Norway before the 


twelfth and thirteenth centuries they were very much in 
the hands of their parishioners, and episcopal control was 
not very effective. The clergy were in the closest connec- 
tion with the b0nder, whose sons they were, and, being a 
married priesthood, they were more liable to local influences. 
The people who were ready, if need be, to support them 
against the bishop were also quite prepared to hold them 
in bondage to themselves. The Kristenret of the Borgar 
Thing laid down that the priest was not to be absent from 
his parish, except he obtained permission from his congrega- 
tion the Sunday before. The only exception to this being, 
if he was going to attend a presto, motz, or clerical 

The first priests in Norway were doubtless men who 
came from England or Germany, to work under the bishops 
who accompanied the two Olafs, and were almost altogether 
foreigners, though of course speaking the language of the 
people. But the next generation of priests were largely 
natives whom the first priests had trained, and who had 
been admitted to the inferior orders. They were unlearned 
men with just sufficient instruction to enable them to per- 
form the Divine service. When after the year 1100 
monastic life was firmly established, there were greater 
opportunities for learning, and there was a corresponding 
improvement in the education of the Norwegian priests. 

In spite of the difficulties which the Church in Norway 
had to contend against in the first century of its existence, 
it already ranked high among the Churches of Western 
Europe for the zeal and piety of its members. We possess 
a very remarkable piece of evidence with respect to this, in 
the writings of Adam of Bremen with regard to several 
points connected with the early history of Norwegian 
Christianity. It is all the more valuable, as the Church of 
Bremen was not particularly inclined to look with favour 
on the work of the English bishops and priests in Norway, 


who were not the emissaries of the great North German see, 
and who had accomplished what the Bremen missionaries 
had more or less failed to effect ; but though praising the 
people, he cannot refrain from attacking the English priests. 

In Adam's description of Norway^ he thus writes, con- 
trasting the condition of the country, in the old heathen 
and Viking days and the time which followed the 
introduction of Christianity: 

"After they received Christianity, being imbued with 
fuller knowledge, they have now learned to love peace and 
truth, and to be content in their poverty ; yea, to distribute 
what they have stored up, and not, as aforetime, to gather 
up what was scattered. And, although they had from 
the beginning all been enslaved by the evil arts of wizards, 
now with the apostle they in simplicity ' confess Christ and 
Him crucified/ 

" Of all men they are the most temperate, both in food 
and in their habits, loving above all things thrift and 
modesty. In addition to this, so great is their veneration 
for priests and churches, that there is scarcely a Christian 
to be found who does not on every occasion that he hears 
Mass make an offering. Baptism, however, and confirma- 
tion, the dedication of altars, and the blessing of Holy 
Orders, with them, as well as with the Danes, are all highly 
paid for. This, I consider, springs from the avarice of the 
priests, because up to now the barbarians are either ignorant 
of, or unwilling to pay, tithes, and therefore they are com- 
pelled to pay for what should be offered free for everything 
there costs money, even the visitation of the sick and the 
burial of the dead. Their morals are of such a high 
character that I am convinced that it is only by the avarice 
of their priests that they are corrupted. In many places in 

* " Descriptio insularum Aquilonis," Chap. xxx. Adam lived in the 
middle and end of the eleventh century, and was therefore a con- 
temporary of Olaf Kyrre. 


Norway and Sweden the tenders of the flocks are men 
even of the most noble rank, who, after the manner of the 
patriarchs, live by the work of their hands. But all who 
dwell in Norway are most devout Christians (Christian- 
issimi), with the exception of those who are far off beside 
the seas of the Arctic regions/ 7 

The period which ends with the reign of Sigurd 
Jorsalfarer is remarkable also for the introduction of 
tithes and for the estabHshment of monasticism in Norway 
on a firm basis. 

In the early days the incomes of the bishops and clergy 
were mainly dependent on the voluntary offerings of the 
people and the smaller, law-appointed bisJcopsrede and 
payments to the fylke churches. But under Sigurd an 
important change took place. It is said that when on his 
memorable Crusade, he made a vow that if he returned 
home in safety, he would introduce tithes into Norway. 
This he did, and from his time we find that they gradually 
superseded the older system of payments, to the great 
advantage of the Church. 

The apportionment of tithe in Norway was four-fold 
(1) To the support of the parish church ; (2) to the bishop ; 
(3) to the parish priest ; (4) to the poor of the parish. 
This was by no means a popular move, as the people 
regarded it in the light of a new tax on the necessities of 
life, tithe being levied not merely on agriculture, but on 
the harvest of the sea and on the cattle. Its introduction 
was apparently gradual, but there were parts of Norway 
(such as the Telemark) where it was resisted, and, with 
more or less success, down to the time of the Reformation, 
when all the property of the Church was seized by the 

The establishment of tithe was naturally a very impor- 
tant thing for the Church, as it rendered the clergy much 
more independent of their people, and they were no longer 


liable to be starved out, if they acted in a way dis- 
pleasing to the majority of their parishioners, which was 
quite possible under the old system. 

The close of the eleventh century, and the beginning of 
the twelfth, saw also, among other important developments 
in the organization of the Church, the firm establishment 
of monasticism in Norway.^ It was hardly to be expected 
that at first this form of religious life would commend 
itself to the national character. A people accustomed to a 
life of adventure, and among whom warlike expeditions 
and constant civil war, continued almost without inter- 
mission for the first century after they had embraced 
Christianity, would not willingly adopt the quiet and 
regular life of a religious community. 

The earliest monastic establishment, however, seems to 
have been the one which Knut the Great, shortly before 
the defeat and death of St. Olaf, founded on the little 
island of Nidarholm (afterwards called Munkholm), which 
lay in the fjord close to the town of Nidaros. Knut's 
bishop, Sigurd, who did all in his power to incite the 
people against St. Olaf, seems to have been mainly 
instrumental in this, and the Benedictines were the first 
of the monastic orders who thus obtained a footing in 
the land. 

The movement, however, did not spread, and the 
country remained for some time longer without any other 
monasteries. When, however, a long period of peaceful 
progress ensued, during the reigns of Olaf Kyrre and 
the sons of Magnus Barfot, we begin to find the religious 
orders in different parts of the country. The Crusade 
of Sigurd Jorsalfarer taught the Norsemen many things, 
and the hardy band of the Northern Crusaders could 
not have failed to be impressed by the great monasteries 

* For the history of monasticism in Norway the great authority is 
Lange's important work, " De NorsJce Klostres Historie" 

C.S.N. K 


which they must have seen in the southern countries of 

The earliest monks, like the earliest of the secular priests, 
were undoubtedly Englishmen, who, leaving their great 
establishments in England, settled down among the Norse- 
men and began to teach them the arts, which at that time, 
were only to be learned in such communities. 

The Benedictines were the first comers, as we have seen, 
and in addition to Nidarholm they were duly established 
on the little island of Selje, where the shrine of St. Sunniva 
was kept until its transference to Bergen. The monastery 
on that island was dedicated to St. Alban, probably the 
English proto-martyr. 

Next after the Benedictines came the Cistercians and 
Augustinians ; the former were, in Norway, closely associated 
with the Benedictines. The latter had, as their earliest 
establishments, Elgesaeter, close to Nidaros, the Jons 
Kloster at Bergen and the great monastery at Halsn0, in 
S0ndhordland. The Cistercians had, as the earliest of their 
monasteries, the one at Lyse,* about twenty miles from 
Bergen, which was first served by English monks from 
Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire. They came on the invitation 
of Bishop Sigurd of Bergen (who had been on a visit to 
Fountains) under Eanulf as their first abbot. Monks from 
Lincoln, the year after the foundation of Lyse, established 
another monastery of the same order on Hoved0, an island 
close to Oslo. 

These were the earliest of the monastic orders in Norway, 
and later on came the Premonstratensians. The Dominicans 
and Franciscans arrived in the following century. The only 

' This place is remarkable as being " the only Norse monastery the 
history of whose foundation is preserved, and that by means of a docu- 
ment published in England." Metcalfe's Introduction to the " Passio 
et Miracula Beati Olaui " of Archbishop Eystein. Clarendon Press, 
Oxford, 1887. 


northern order, that of St. Birgitta, we shall meet with at 
the end of the fourteenth century. 

It is only necessary for our purpose to indicate as above 
what orders established themselves in Norway ; the history 
of these various foundations is beyond the scope of our 
present inquiry. 



Civil War Sigurd, Eystein, and Inge, joint Kings Reidar, the First 
Archbishop of Nidaros The Mission of Cardinal Nicholas, 1152 
The New Province of Nidaros The Results which followed the 
Mission of Cardinal Nicholas Civil War again Erling Skakke 
Archbishop Eystein His Policy Erling's compact with Eystein 
The Coronation of Magnus Erlingss0n The Triumph of the Church 
over the State The Rise of the Birkebeiner Magnus victorious 
at Re. 

THE sad forebodings which filled the mind of Sigurd 
Jorsalfarer in the closing days of his life, were but too fully 
realized in the events which followed. His and his brother's 
reign had been a time of peaceful progress for Norway ; 
and, saved from foreign invasion and internal strife, the 
country had made great strides in material prosperity and 
social advancement. But all this was now to receive a 
check, and for close upon a century civil war raged almost 
without intermission, and the progress which had been so 
marked, absolutely ceased for a time. The period was, 
however, characterized by a very great increase in the power 
and authority of the Church, which profited by the weak- 
ness of the rival kings to advance her claims ; for none of 
them dared to speak with the tones of Haardraade and 
declare that he was the sole ruler in the Church as well as 
the State. 

Sigurd was no sooner dead than Harald Gille (disregard- 
ing his oath which he had taken before proving his claim 
by ordeal) had himself chosen as king, by a gathering at 
T0nsberg. At the same time Magnus's adherents proclaimed 


i T 


Erected about 1150. An excellent example of the Norwegian 
Stcwfeirke. See Appendix II. 

{To face p. 132, 

or THE 



him king in Oslo. Harald justified himself for this breach 
of his oath by maintaining that he only took it under com- 
pulsion. An immediate outbreak was averted by the chiefs 
on both sides, and the two divided the kingdom. This, 
however, only lasted for about four years, and in 1134 
Magnus attacked Harald, who was obliged to fly the country. 
Early in January, 1135, Harald, having got help, came 
back and surprised Magnus in Bergen, and cruelly blinded 
and mutilated him, and the miserable man sought refuge in 
a monastery in Nidaros, and left the country to Harald. 

The latter, however, did not profit by his cruel deed, and 
much indignation was felt throughout the country. This 
was increased by a further atrocity. Harald, who had tried 
in vain to extract from Magnus the secret of the place 
where his treasure was hidden, had reason to believe that 
Eeinald, the bishop of Stavanger, was in the ex-king's 
confidence. On his refusal to assist Harald he was ordered 
to pay a heavy fine, and when he declined to do so, on 
the ground of its impoverishing the revenues of the see, 
Harald, in his rage and fury, condemned him to be hung. 
This atrocious sentence was carried out on January 18th, 

This savage king was not long left to rule alone. We 
have seen what a dangerous precedent was established when 
Harald was allowed to prove his claim by ordeal. He had 
now to permit another to do the same thing. The new 
claimant was a man named Sigurd, who alleged that he, 
like Harald, was a son of Magnus Barfot. This claimant 
had, it seems, been trained up for holy orders, and had 
actually been ordained deacon, hence the name by which he 
became known of Slembediakn, the bad deacon, or, as it is 
usually shortened, Slembe. He arrived in Bergen in 1136, 
and Harald was most reluctantly obliged to admit his 
claim ; this Sigurd repaid by having Harald treacherously 
murdered in his bed. Sigurd then thought that, having 


removed his brother, he would have the kingdom to himself ; 
but he was quickly told that, as his brother's murderer, they 
would have none of him, and if Harald was not his brother 
he would have no claim to the throne. 

A wearisome strife followed. The chiefs took as kings 
Harald's two sons, Sigurd and Inge, who were but little 
children, and prepared to defend them against the fratricide, 
Sigurd Slembe. Then Sigurd, to strengthen his cause, went 
to Nidaros and took the poor blind Magnus out of his 
monastery and forced him to follow his army. The civil 
war raged with varying fortune until 1139, when the un- 
fortunate Magnus was killed and Sigurd Slembe taken 
prisoner in a battle at Holmengraa, near Str0mstad. The 
war had aroused the worst passions of both parties, and the 
wretched Slembe was put to death after horrible cruelties 
had been inflicted on him, which he seems to have met 
bravely, and we are told that he sang the psalms until death 
ended his tortures. 

Two kings having now been disposed of, there remained 
but Sigurd and Inge. The former was known as Sigurd 
Mund, Sigurd of the Mouth, as that was the most prominent 
feature of his face ; and the latter as Inge Krokryg, or the 
Humpback, the hardships of his early days, and his having 
been carried about to all the battles of the civil war, 
having caused the deformity. But they were not to be left 
to rule alone, for in 1142 their brother Ey stein arrived in 
Norway from Scotland, and claimed and received his share 
of the kingdom. There were now no less than three kings 
of Norway, and this situation contained all the elements of 
future disturbance, but for the time, as all the kings were 
so young, there was a short interval of peace, and the 
country began to recover itself a little from the desolations 
of the previous civil war. 

It was at this time that the famous mission of Cardinal 
Nicholas Breakspeare took place, which led to such important 


results in the future development of the Church ; but here 
we must retrace our steps. 

It will be remembered that it was in the first year of the 
joint reign of Ey stein and Sigurd Jorsalfarer (1104) that 
the jurisdiction of the see of Bremen over the three 
northern kingdoms ended by the elevation of the see of 
Lund, in Sweden, but politically in Denmark, to metro- 
politan dignity. This step finally terminated the disputes 
which had been carried on between the bishops in Norway 
from the earliest times of the introduction of Christianity 
under Olaf Trygvess0n, and the archbishops of Bremen. 
The change of the metropolitan see from Bremen to Lund 
was chiefly due to the initiative of the Danish kings, who 
found the archbishops of Bremen much too ready to inter- 
fere in the internal affairs of Denmark. Svein Ulfss0n 
seems to have opened negotiations with the Pope for this 
purpose, but nothing definite was settled. Later, Erik the 
Good, of Denmark, applied to Urban II., who was favourable 
to the project of a Danish metropolitan, but it was not until 
the time of Pope Paschal II. that the plan was carried out. 
Liemar, the archbishop of Bremen who had been the friend 
of the Kaiser Henry II., died in 1101, and was succeeded 
by Archbishop Hubert. 

In 1103 the Pope sent a cardinal legate to Denmark for 
the purpose of carrying out the wishes of the king. He 
chose Lund as the most suitable place, and invested the 
bishop there with the pallium. Thus Denmark, Norway, 
and Sweden ceased to be any longer under the metropolitan 
jurisdiction of the archbishops of Bremen. 

From this time, down to the middle of the century, 
Norway was officially under the authority of the see of 
Lund, and most of the bishops were consecrated there, but 
notwithstanding this, the old connection with the English 
Church was closely maintained. Most of the monasteries 
which sprang up in Norway at that time were filled with 


monks and priors from England. Stavanger diocese seems 
to have been closely allied to Winchester, and the cathedral, 
as we have already noted, bore, and still bears, the honoured 
name of the great prelate of Winchester, St. S within. 
The monastery of Lyse, which was situated only a few 
miles from Bergen, was the foundation of monks from 
Fountains Abbey, in Yorkshire.^ 

No difficulties, however, seem to have arisen between the 
Norwegian Church and the see of Lund in the fifty odd 
years during which its authority extended over Norway. It 
was felt, however, that as Norway had now a fully 
recognized place among the nations of Europe her claim 
to a separate ecclesiastical province could not be denied, 
especially after the famous exploits of the Norwegian King 
Sigurd in his Crusade. That monarch during his stay in 
Jerusalem is said to have announced his intention of estab- 
lishing a metropolitan see in Norway, but no formal steps 
in this direction appear to have been taken. 

Thus matters remained until the period which we have 
now reached in the history of the Church, when the country 
found itself under the weak rule of the three joint kings, 
Eystein, Sigurd, and Inge, the sons of Harald Gille. 

That negotiations must have been carried on with Rome, 
and the see of Nidaros selected as the one for metropolitan 
dignity is clear, but there are no records of them. We 
learn, however, that in 1151 Bishop Reidar of Nidaros was 
invested with the pallium in Rome as archbishop. He, 
however, died very soon after his appointment, and before 
he had time to return to Norway. 

The year after, the Pope (Eugenius III.) took the neces- 
sary steps for selecting the metropolitan see for Norway, and, 
following the precedent of his predecessor (Paschal II.) in 
1103, he dispatched a cardinal legate to the North. For 
this purpose the Pope selected the famous Englishman 

* See p. 130. 


Nicholas Breakspeare, at that time cardinal archbishop of 
Albano. There are few more striking stories than that of 
the life of this famous prelate, who, from being a poor lad 
begging for bread at St. Albans, rose at last to the chair of 
St. Peter, and was the only Englishman who ever filled that 
exalted post. It was to his own great talents and power 
that he owed his elevation. After leaving England he went 
to the monastery of St. Eufus, in Provence, where his great 
learning and ability gained him, after some time, the post 
of prior. Though he had been unanimously chosen by the 
monks, his stern rule made him unpopular with them, and 
they appealed to the Pope, who, at once seeing what a 
strong man Nicholas was, determined to exalt him to higher 
rank, and, appointing another prior to St. Kufus, made 
Breakspeare a cardinal, and archbishop of Albano. 

A wiser selection than this astute Churchman to bring the 
Norwegian Church fully under Koman obedience could not 
possibly have been made. With all his firmness of purpose 
the legate was a man of the most winning disposition, and 
secured for ever a firm place in the affections of the 
Norwegian people. 

When he arrived in Norway he found the three kings on 
indifferent terms with one another, and he skilfully availed 
himself of this, in order to advance and confirm the 
authority of the Church. Of the three brothers, the best 
was undoubtedly the delicate Inge Krokryg, for whom 
the legate seems to have entertained a warm feeling of 

In July, 1152, the cardinal came from England to 
Norway, where he was received with great honour. Steps 
were immediately taken to call together a representative 
assembly of the whole kingdom. This seems undoubtedly 
to have been held at Nidaros (though, curiously, we have 
no actual record of the exact place), for no other town was 
as likely to have been selected as that where the body of the 


national saint reposed, and whose bishop was now to be 
advanced to metropolitan dignity. 

At this gathering the three kings were all present. The 
bishops of Bergen, Stavanger, and Oslo, along with twelve 
representative men from each diocese, gave the meeting 
the character of a national assembly. The see of Nidaros 
was vacant at the time, as Reidar was only a few months 
dead, and the vacancy still remained, the kings having 
probably purposely abstained from appointing his successor 
until the visit of the cardinal. 

It was decided that Nidaros should be chosen as the 
metropolitan see, and the vacancy was filled up by the 
translation from Bergen of the bishop Jon Byrgess0n, who 
was forthwith invested with the pallium by Cardinal 
Nicholas at a function marked with great solemnity. The 
province for the new archbishop was a widespread one, 
embracing not only Norway, but all those other lands 
which had been either colonized, or conquered by the 
Norwegians. It was decided that the diocese of Oslo must 
be divided, and Hamar, on the Mi0sen Lake, was selected 
as the most suitable centre of the new diocese, which 
was to consist chiefly of the Oplands and surrounding 

The new metropolitan of Nidaros had therefore under 
his jurisdiction the following sees : 

NORWAY Bergen, Stavanger, Oslo, and Hamar. 

ICELAND Skaalholt and Hole. 

G REENL AND Garde . * 

F^ER0ERNE (Faeroe Islands, p. 57) Kirkeb0 in Straum0. 

ORKNEYS Kirkevaag. 

SODOR (Suder0erne) and MAN. 

* An interesting point connected with this see lies in the fact that 
the Norwegian colony founded in North America about the year 1000, 
and which lingered on for a considerable time (much longer than is 
usually supposed), lay in the diocese of Garde. 


It will thus be seen that, including Nidaros itself, eleven 
sees made up the province, and when we remember the 
immense distance which separated some of the suffragan 
bishops from their archbishop, such as Garde and Man, it 
was not likely that, except in Norway and Iceland, any 
very effective control could easily be maintained over 
these far-distant dioceses. The bishops who ruled over the 
Norwegian Church in Ireland in former years had at this 
time come practically under the control of the Irish 

The stay of Cardinal Nicholas was marked by several 
very important changes in the constitution of the Church 
in Norway, into which we must enter in detail ; but here 
we may say that his mission was entirely successful, and 
he left the country having won the honour and love of all 
the people. From Norway he went to Sweden for a short 
time, and then returned to Eome. Two years afterwards, 
on the death of Anastasius IV. in 1154, he was chosen as 
his successor, and assumed the tiara with the title of 
Adrian IV. During his short reign as Pope (1154 1159) 
he never forgot his friends in the North, and it is told of 
him "that no matter what important business he might 
have on hands, he would always give an audience first to 
the Northmen when they sought it,' 7 and, though never 
canonized, they reverenced him as a saint. 

We must now sum up the results which followed from 
this important mission. 

From what we have learned of the state of the Church 
in Norway from the days of St. Olaf to the coming of 
Nicholas, it is quite clear that there was a great deal which 
would not at all commend itself to the papal theories of 
government, which were fully established in the middle of 
the twelfth century. The bishops and clergy were very 
far from being the well-drilled and disciplined ecclesiastical 
force which the papacy had organized in other parts of 


Europe. They were ready enough to conform in matters 
of doctrine, but there was amongst them a very strong 
feeling of dislike to any kind of foreign interference, which 
was most characteristic of the national spirit, and which 
was often manifested in England as well, from which 
country, the clergy were largely recruited. The stronger 
kings, we know, fiercely resented the claims of the arch- 
bishops of Bremen, and it was the same spirit of aversion 
to the rule of prelates outside Norway which led to the 
establishment of the Nidaros archbishopric. But the time 
was propitious for the assertion of the power of the Church, 
and three weak kings made easy what would have formerly 
been an impossible task. 

It was not likely that cardinals who had recently seen the 
triumph of the papacy over the very greatest of the kaisers, 
would have been inclined to regard with patience the claims 
of a few small kinglets in half-civilized Norway. Trained 
up in such a school, the cardinal archbishop of Albano was 
not likely to look with favour on a Church organization 
in which the king alone chose the bishops, and the people, 
if they did not directly appoint the parochial clergy, 
had them, at any rate, very largely under their control. 
Then again, although the Pope was willingly recognized as 
the head of Western Christendom, the recognition did not 
proceed as far as the popes (now at the summit of their 
temporal power) desired, for it brought them no tribute. 
The freedom-loving Norseman, who only grudgingly paid 
skat to his king, had no desire to swell the papal treasury 
by his share of Peter's pence. 

The ecclesiastical revolution for it was nothing less than 
a revolution may be summed up under the following 
heads : 

1. The transference of the choice of bishops from the 
king to the cathedral chapters. Originally, as we have 
noted, the bishops were but missionaries in episcopal orders, 


and they had not for over one hundred and fifty years after 
the days of Olaf Trygvess0n, any fixed dioceses or regular 
cathedral churches; and when they gained these, the 
" sacred circlet of the presbytery " assembled in chapter, was 
wanting. These were supplied by the reforms of Cardinal 
Nicholas, and to them was given the choice of the bishop. 
This choice, however, was to be subject to the royal approval, 
and naturally led to frequent conflicts in future years. 
The argument of the astute Churchman who succeeded in 
thus weakening the royal control over the Church in such 
a striking way, was a very reasonable one, and based on 
the very unwise law of succession to the throne which pre- 
vailed in Norway. Given three kings with equal powers, 
what was to happen if they could not agree on a suitable 
man how much better it would be for the cathedral 
chapters to choose a man subject to the royal approval. 

2. The appointment to parishes. This was now given 
to the bishops. This was also an infringement on the royal 
power, for the kings exercised a good deal of patronage, 
but by no means exclusively, for the bishops appointed 
largely to many parishes, especially to the herreds kirker, 
in which their patronage was to a certain extent shared by 
the people. 

3. A change in the law of the land with respect to 
bequests. This power was formerly very limited, but 
through the cardinal's influence it was permitted to every 
one to give a tithe of inherited property, and one-fourth of 
personal earnings to any one they desired. The presumption 
of the old law was practically that all property belonged 
more to the family than to the individual, including what 
we would call personal as well as real property. Under 
the old laws there was recognized the custom of giving what 
was called a hovedtiende, or chief tithe. This custom pre- 
vailed before the introduction of ordinary tithes under 
Sigurd Jorsalfarer, and it was only given once in a man's 


life, usually on his death-bed. If paid by the heir it was 
known as a sjcelegave, or a gift for the soul of the 
deceased. The object of the cardinal's change in the law, 
was of course to enrich the Church, which it eventually did 
to a very considerable extent after some years. It was 
necessary that this change in the law of inheritance should 
receive the sanction of the Things. This was granted at 
once by the Frosta Thing for the north, and the Gula Thing 
for the west, but it was not until about the year 1224 that 
the Eidsiva and Borgar Things accepted the new proposal. 

4. The payment of Peter's pence. If Norway was to 
receive the benefits of papal supervision, it was only natural 
that the country should pay its share of the contributions 
of Western Christendom to the papal see. This new 
ecclesiastical tax was known as the Roma skat, and was 
fixed as a Norwegian " penny " to be paid by all who 
owned not less than three marks, besides weapons and 

All these important results appear to have followed from 
the visit of Cardinal Nicholas, and though they did not all 
at once come into operation, yet we may safely ascribe them 
to the influence of this far-seeing prelate. There was one 
point, however, in which he failed. The papal power at 
this time tried everywhere to enforce the new doctrine of 
the celibacy of the clergy, and it was only to be expected 
that the cardinal would attempt to do the same in Norway. 
We have no clear information as to what was done by him 
in this direction, but later on, when the bishops sought to 
enforce it on the parish priests, as part of the discipline of the 
Church, it was resisted by the clergy, on the ground that 
Nicholas had attempted it, and finding the opposition too 
great, he had then given them permission to marry. It is 
hardly likely that the cardinal had given any formal per- 
mission, for what was so entirely contrary to the designs of 
the papacy at the time ; but it is probable that, perceiving 


the clergy were very determined on the point, and being a 
very far-seeing and prudent man, he did not wish to risk 
the success of the other great results which he had achieved, 
by insisting on the celibacy of the priests, and his acquies- 
cence in this was taken by them as a formal permission. 
The cardinal doubtless saw, and saw rightly, that the 
celibacy of the clergy would follow, when the authority of 
the bishops, who were directly under the papal power, 
began to make itself felt. 

To Nicholas has also been ascribed the drawing up of a 
catechism for the instruction of the young, but for this we 
have no positive authority. He doubtless impressed upon 
the clergy the extreme importance of attending to cate- 
chetical instruction, and indicated the lines upon which it 
should proceed. It is very probably true, as has been 
stated, that in addition to the Creed and Paternoster which 
formed the foundation of the earliest Christian teaching in 
Norway, he added the Ave Maria* 

Thus was Norway brought fully under the dominion of 
the Apostolic see and its metropolitans invested by Kome 
with the pa] Hum, the outward sign of their authority. The 
old semi-independent days were now over, and a new era 
dawned upon the Church. Hitherto the struggles which 
had raged so fiercely in other lands between the Church 
and the State were unknown, but the time was not far distant 
when Norway was to be the scene of many similar conflicts. 

It cannot be denied that the closer connection between 
Norway and Eome was of very great benefit to the cause 

* It may also be noticed that a change was made in the form in 
which the laws began. The oldest form which we have of the Gula 
Things law, began thus : " It is the foundation of our law that we 
should bow to the East and pray to the Holy Christ for a good season and 
peace," &c. In 1274 we find the same laws (under Magnus Lagab0ter) 
opening with these words : " The peace and blessing of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, and of our Lady the Holy Mary, and the prayers of the holy 
King Olaf and all the saints be with us, and all the Gula Things men." 


of religion and learning, whilst the old Norse love of in- 
dependence and freedom, prevented the growth of that 
spirit of servility manifested in other lands under the 
Eoman supremacy. The learned and pious men who 
from time to time filled the highest offices in the Church, 
used their influence in spreading civilization, and the 
true spirit of Christianity amongst the rough, and in 
many cases still even half-barbarous, inhabitants of the 
wild mountain valleys of Norway. When we remember 
how, even in our own day, many districts are still remote 
and inaccessible, we can see how difficult it must have 
been in the middle ages to minister to the higher needs 
of the people, and to teach them the doctrines of the 
Christian faith. 

After the mission of Cardinal Nicholas was over, the 
smouldering antagonism between the three kings of 
Norway broke into a flame, and once more civil war began. 
The two brothers, Eystein and Sigurd, had no love for each 
other, but probably from feelings of jealousy towards their 
brother, whose kindly nature had won the love of the great 
cardinal they decided to join in an attempt to exclude 
him from his share in the kingdom, on the ground that his 
feeble health rendered him unfit to rule. Inge had, how- 
ever, a strong following in the land, led by Gregorius 
Dagss0n, of Bratsberg, and the famous Erling Skakke, of 
St0dle, in S0ndhordland. Civil war raged again, and in 
1155 Sigurd was killed in battle at Bergen, and Eystein, 
in 1157, met the same fate at Viken. Inge was thus left 
the sole king, though the opposite faction took Sigurd's son, 
Haakon Herdebred, and made him king in Nidaros (1159), 
though little progress was made in his cause as long as 
Dagss0n lived to champion the side of Inge. In 1161, 
however, Gregorius Dagss0n was slain, and a few weeks 
later Inge was also killed in a battle fought on the ice at 
Oslo, on the 3rd of February in the same year. 


There was no king now left to contest the throne 
with Haakon Herdebred, and it might have been thought 
that peace would have been restored to the distracted land. 
This, however, was not to be. The great chief Erling 
Skakke was determined to try and secure the royal 
authority to one of his own family. He had married a 
daughter of Sigurd Jorsalfarer, and by her he had a son 
named Magnus, who at this time was but a child of five 
years old. It was quite an unheard-of thing that any one 
should lay claim to the throne by right of his mother ; and 
all the previous kings even those whose paternity was, 
to say the least, doubtful, like Harald Gille and Sigurd 
Slembe never ventured on such a step. There were many 
who might have traced a direct descent, through females, 
from the great Haarfagre, but none had ever claimed the 
throne on such grounds. 

Erlingj however, decided on making an effort on behalf 
of the youthful Magnus, relying on his own great popu- 
larity and power, and also on the fact that Magnus was the 
grandson of the great Crusader, and, it might be hoped, that 
one so nearly related to him, would bring back again the 
long-lost prosperity which the land had enjoyed in the 
reign of Sigurd. A few months after the death of Inge, 
Erling had Magnus chosen as king, at a Thing held in 
Bergen. Thus again there were two kings Haakon 
now accepted in Tr0ndelagen as sovereign of the whole 
country, formerly only of his father's share, and Magnus 
also claiming the entire land. 

Erling sought help from Denmark, on his son's behalf, 
and promised to hand over once more to the Danish king's 
authority, the old district of Viken. Then he returned to 
Norway, and shortly after, in 1162, defeated and slew 
Haakon Herdebred in a sea-fight in the Romsdals Fjord ; and 
now there seemed to be no rival to his son's throne. After 
the battle Erling sailed on to Nidaros, and at a Thing 

O.S.N. L 


held there extracted a rather unwilling acceptance of 
Magnus as king of Norway. 

We now come to a period in the history of Norway, 
when the Church (the foundation of whose power had 
been so carefully laid by the famous cardinal) was about 
to enter upon a long conflict with the State, which con- 
tinued with varying fortunes for over one hundred years. 
It was but an incident in the great struggle which was 
experienced in almost every country of Europe, and in 
which the greatest of the Hohenstaufen Kaisers had to 
bend before the imperious pontiff, and the great Plan- 
tagenet to humble himself at the tomb of his martyred 

The preliminary victory of the ecclesiastical over the 
civil power in Norway was, however, a much easier one 
than that which fell to the lot of the Church in other lands, 
and was the result of a bargain between an ambitious 
chief, on behalf of a child king, and an ecclesiastic of the 
highest rank in power and wisdom. 

Jon Byrgess0n, who had been invested with the dignity 
of a metropolitan by Cardinal Nicholas, only lived for a few 
years after his translation to Nidaros, and died in the year 
1157. Not much about him is known, but he seems to 
have been a kindly and tolerant archbishop. Inge was, at 
the time of his death, the sole king, and, in spite of the 
newly-made agreement that the chapters were to have the 
choice of the bishops, he nominated as archbishop his 
chaplain and chancellor, Ey stein Erlendss0n, a man who 
belonged to one of the most ancient and influential families 
in Tr0ndelagen, and who was related to the royal line of 

Ey stein was, perhaps, the most remarkable man in the 
long list of the archbishops of Nidaros. He was a man of 
great power and ability; learned, pious, eloquent, and 
possessed of an iron will which would brook no resistance ; 


he was filled with the loftiest ideas as to the power and 
authority of the Church. In some points he resembled his 
great contemporary Thomas a Becket, though he had not 
to climb from low estate to the highest office in the Church 
of his native land. Eystein was the equal or superior in 
birth, to most of those with whom he came in contact, nor 
had he to serve a master so strong and powerful as the 
English Henry II. He escaped the martyrdom which fell 
to the lot of the great prelate of Canterbury, but he had to 
endure, at any rate, three years of exile from the Church 
over which he had been called to rule. Though he was 
nominated as archbishop by the king in 1157, he was not 
consecrated in that year, and he seems to have spent some 
time in wisely endeavouring to conciliate his cathedral 
chapter, and to make them acquiesce in the manner of his 
selection. He does not appear to have reached Italy 
until 1159 the same year, and about the same time, as 
Adrian IV. (Cardinal Nicholas Breakspeare) died. 

The death of Adrian IV. was followed, as is known, by 
the choice of two popes, Alexander III. and Victor IV. 
The struggle between the two, does not concern us here, 
but Eystein threw in his lot with the one who eventually 
triumphed, Alexander III., and was by him consecrated 
and received the pallium (probably in France) in the year 
1161. He returned to Norway at once, to find his friend 
and patron Inge, slain in the battle at Oslo, and Erling 
Skakke, on behalf of his son Magnus, contesting the 
kingdom with Haakon Herdebred. 

On his arrival at Nidaros he probably saw that the 
time was ripe for asserting the claims of the Church, and 
for putting into practice the lessons which had doubtless 
been impressed upon him by the haughty Pope Alexander 
III. In order to strengthen himself for the fray, he 
decided that the first step to be taken was to increase the 
revenues of his see. These were, as we know, very largely 



augmented by the fines (sag0re or b0der), which were 
levied and sanctioned by the State, for breaches of 
ecclesiastical discipline under the Kristenret. The arch- 
bishop set to work with great astuteness to accomplish 
this. At a meeting of the Frosta Thing he put it to the 
people, that they had now received the great honour of 
having a metropolitan and archbishop in Nidaros, and 
that if they were to enjoy so great an honour and dignity 
above all the other dioceses of Norway, they must be 
ready on their part, to provide a suitable income for the 
see. The b0nder, much as they might appreciate the 
honour of belonging to the archiepiscopal diocese, were not 
enthusiastic over the suggestion, which would entail the 
payment of a larger sum in fines than had hitherto 
been levied on them ; but the great local influence of 
Eystein and his persuasive eloquence, induced them to 
assent to the archbishop's proposal. What Eystein carried 
through was a very simple and effective reform. The fines 
had been customarily paid according to an old standard 
of coinage called the Iag0re, which was worth only one 
half of the current silver, coinage or s0lv0re. The Thing 
agreed that in future the fines should be paid in s0lv0re, 
and thus the archbishop by a single stroke, exactly doubled 
his income derived from this important source. 

The opportunity which Eystein looked for, of asserting 
the power of the Church soon came. In 1162 Erling 
Skakke, after having vanquished and slain Haakon 
Herdebred in the battle fought off the island of Sekken, 
in the Romsdals Fjord, arrived at Nidaros, where he 
procured the recognition of Magnus as king of the whole 
of Norway. 

Erling was far too wise a man not to recognize at once 
what a powerful prelate now reigned at Nidaros, and how 
important it was for him to secure to his side the growing 
power of the Church. He saw plainly enough that his 


son's title to the crown was a defective one, and rested 
entirely on descent in the female line from the royal race 
of Haarfagre, which was contrary to the law and custom 
of the whole land, which so strongly insisted on descent 
in the male line, that even illegitimacy was no bar to the 

Erling therefore felt that if the legal title of Magnus 
was defective, he must support it by the power and 
authority of the Church, to gain which, of course, he 
must be prepared to make concessions to the Archbishop 
and bishops. In Eystein, Erling saw the very man for 
his purpose, and he felt sure that if he could win him over, 
his son's claim would be firmly established. 

With this end in view, he seems to have held several 
secret conferences with the archbishop during the time he 
was in Nidaros. He began with the crafty suggestion 
that if the archbishop had got his income practically 
doubled, it was only fair that the king should have the 
same advantage, many of the fines being divided between 
the king and the bishop, and further that the action of 
the archbishop was at variance with the Kristenret of 
St. Olaf. The archbishop, however, had a ready answer 
to this, as he at once pointed out that what he had done, 
was done in a perfectly legal manner by the Thing, and 
that, on the other hand, Magnus had himself no legal right 
whatsoever to the crown of Norway. 

Erling saw at once the force of this argument, and 
suggested that instead of disputing, it would be much the 
wisest thing for him and the archbishop to come to terms. 
Finally it was agreed that, in return for the support of 
Erling and his son in the furtherance of the claims of the 
Church, the archbishop and bishops should give the 
sanction of " God's law "* to supply the defect in title of 

* The Kristenret was usually known as " God's law," in distinction 
from the civil law, or the " land law." 


the king according to the " land law," and that this was 
to be done by the archbishop crowning and anointing the 
young king. 

How long exactly the negotiations lasted is not clear, 
but it was not until the summer of 1164 that the corona- 
tion took place. The archbishop was probably waiting to 
make sure of his terms, and also to see whether anything 
was likely to arise which might upset the plans of Erling. 
In 1163 a papal legate, Stephen, came to Norway (for 
what purpose it does not appear), and the presence of the 
legate, seemed to Eystein to be the best opportunity for a 
great display of the power of the Church. Accordingly, in 
1164 a great rigsmfide, or parliament, was called to meet 
in Bergen in the summer, and at the same time the arch- 
bishop gathered around him all his suffragans in Norway, 
and one (the bishop of Hole) from Iceland, and the heads 
of the religious houses. With great ceremony, and in the 
presence of the legate, and all the chiefs and bishops, young 
Magnus was solemnly anointed and crowned king in 
Christ Church, the cathedral of Bergen, and invested by 
the archbishop with all the insignia of royalty. 

This was the first king who had been crowned in 
Norway, and the ceremony was an entirely new departure 
in the land. The older monarchs needed only the choice 
by the b0nder and chiefs, in the ancient assembly of the 
Thing, but now it became apparent to all men that a new 
order had come into being, and that the head of the 
Norwegian nation was no longer to be only the chosen of 
the people, but also " the Lord's anointed/' and invested 
with a semi- ecclesiastical power from the hands of the 
archbishop. The very placing of the crown on the king's 
head by the prelate, was in itself a proof that the monarch 
derived his authority, not only from the people, but from 
the Church as well. 

Thus publicly the Church proclaimed her power, and 


showed what a change had come from the time when the 
bishops, like Sigurd and Grimkell of the days of the two 
Olafs, were content to be members of the royal household 
and to accompany the kings in their journeys through 
the land. 

It was not all at once that the terms of the compact 
between the Church, as represented by Eystein, and 
Erling, as the guardian of the young king, became known. 
It is most probable that, had the people generally become 
aware of them at the time, a flood of national anger 
would have swept away the young king and his crafty 
father. It was only little by little that they became 
known and were tolerated. We are told that the con- 
ditions respecting the Church's prerogatives, were embodied 
in a letter written later on by Magnus, when he came of 
age, to Archbishop Eystein 1 *; but this has been regarded by 
many as unauthentic, though in one very important 
particular the truth of the conditions is confirmed in the 
laws of the Gula Thing, which are undoubtedly authentic, 
and in which are set forth clearly the changes that had 
been made with regard to the succession to the crown. 

The compact between Magnus (or more properly 
speaking his father, Erling) and the archbishop was of a 
kind which, if fully carried out, would effect a complete 
revolution in the constitution of Norway. The principal 
points were as follows : 

The king undertook to surrender his kingdom to God 
and St. Olaf, and to hold the kingdom as the vicar and 
vassal of the saint. As a sign and token of this, at every 
king's death his crown was to be offered on the altar in 
Nidaros, and the new monarch to receive it there. Norway 
was to be a fief held from St. Olaf, who was to be the real 
but invisible king. 

* This letter will be found in Latin, in Norges Gamle Love, I., 
p. 442. 


The election of bishops and the appointment to parishes 
was to be entirely free from royal control. 

The special privileges of the metropolitan see were fully 

There were other clauses which provided for the protec- 
tion of all pilgrims to the shrine of St. Olaf, and severe 
laws were to be enforced against sacrilege. 

It will at once be seen, that the first of these condi- 
tions meant nothing else but the complete ascendency of 
the Church over the crown, and making the archbishop 
the real ruler of the land. Nothing could more clearly 
have set forth the claims which the papacy at this very 
time laid down for the kings of Europe, and which were 
so vigorously resisted by the kaiser and others. But 
perhaps more important still, were the changes which 
were introduced into the law respecting the succession to 
the crown. 

On the death of a king, his successor was to be his eldest 
legitimate son, unless he was considered ineligible from 
insanity or wickedness. In that case another brother was 
to be selected by the archbishop, the bishops, and twelve 
men from each diocese nominated by the bishop. If it 
should happen that the deceased monarch left no legitimate 
son, then the next-of-kin was to be selected by the same 
authority. In case of the choice failing to be unanimous, 
the candidate of the majority was to be king, provided the 
bishops were a part of that majority. 

On the death of a king, the bishops, and the twelve episcopal 
nominees from each diocese, were to assemble at the shrine 
of St. Olaf within one mouth, to confer with the archbishop 
respecting the succession, and the late king's crown was to 
be offered upon the altar. These terms, of course, meant 
that the ancient right of the people of Norway to choose 
their king, was to be entirely swept away and transferred to 
five episcopal electors. 


There was certainly one point in the new proposals which 
commends itself namely, the restriction of the succession 
to the crown, to the legitimate issue of the king ; the old 
law which made illegitimacy no bar to the succession left 
the door open to impostors, and was the cause of many of 
the troubles which arose after the death of Sigurd Jor- 
salfarer. The assertion of the right of primogeniture was 
also a novel one, for although it usually happened that the 
eldest son was chosen, it was by no means the invariable 
or legal rule, as we have already seen in several instances. 

Such were the terms of the compact between the arch- 
bishop and Magnus, and which the latter is said to have 
put in writing in a letter to Eystein when on Easter day, 
1174, he offered his crown upon the altar in Nidaros. 

It was hardly to be expected, that such a revolution 
would be quietly accepted in Norway, and we shall see it 
was the commencement of a fierce struggle which lasted 
many years, and in the course of which the nation was 
divided into two hostile camps the Church and her nominee 
striving for the fulfilment of the compact between Magnus 
and Eystein, and the chosen of the people, in the person of 
perhaps in one way the greatest king that Norway ever 
saw, Sverre Sigurdss0n, resisting to the uttermost her claim 
to set aside the ancient constitution of the land. 

We must now turn again to the history of the reign of 
Magnus. The years which succeeded the famous coronation 
were more or less disturbed by various attempts, made by 
the enemies of Magnus and Erling, to raise the standard of 
rebellion, but these were suppressed. The young king was 
of a kindly and generous disposition, and seems to have in- 
herited many of the good qualities of his famous grandfather, 
and possibly he might have brought about a time of peaceful 
progress in Norway. But very shortly after he came of 
age and took the government into his own hands, a storm 
arose which finally swept him away and brought back the 


crown to the male line of Harald Haarfagre. This was the 
rise of the famous party of the Birkebeiner, to which we 
must now turn. 

The severities with which Erling had crushed out all 
resistance to his son's rule, had produced much discontent, 
and a number of men, mostly young, who had been driven 
from their homes, gradually gathered themselves together 
into a band. They were found mostly in Viken, where they 
lived in the woods and on the mountains, where they had 
to take refuge after their occasional forays on the b0nder. 
They were a very ragged and unkempt body of men, and 
when their clothing failed them they bound round their 
legs and on their feet the birch bark, from whence they got 
the name of Birkebeiner, or birch ]egs, and long afterwards 
the name was retained and held in honour by the defenders 
of the ancient rights of Norway, against the encroachments 
of the hierarchy.* 

About the year 1174 they took as their chief a young 
man named Eystein, said to be a son of King Ey stein, 
Inge's brother. He was generally known as Eystein M0ila, 
the surname being probably given in derision, as it means 
the " little girl." With him they ranged over the land, 
not daring openly to attack Magnus; but in 1177 they 
managed to procure some ships, and determined on an 
audacious stroke. They came quite unexpectedly on 
Nidaros and captured the town. Then, as they found there 
was much discontent among the people, they gathered a 
Thing and proclaimed Eystein as king. They had, however, 
soon to retreat to Viken, whither the young king Magnus 
followed them and defeated them in a battle fought at Ke, 
near T0nsberg, where Eystein M0ila was slain and his party 
scattered, f 

* Compare the name Tory in English politics, 
t This is the last historical event mentioned by Snorre, and concludes 
the Heimskringla. 


It seemed now as if the rule of Magnus Erlingss0n was 
firmly established in the land, and that an end had come, 
at least for a time, to internal strife, as there was no one to 
dispute his title to the throne. The remains of the Birke- 
beiner force sought refuge in Vermland with Cecilia, the 
daughter of Sigurd Mund (whom Erling had forced, against 
her will, into a marriage with Folkvid, a Swede), and ap- 
peared impotent for harm. 

But Magnus was not to reign unchallenged. The Birke- 
beiner found a new leader in the great man to whose 
extraordinary history we must now turn the priest from 
the Fseroe Islands, Sverre Sigurdss0n. 



Sverre's Early Days Comes to Norway Forced to Lead the 
Birkebeiner His Extraordinary Adventures Defeats and Slays 
Magnus Erlingss0n, 1184 Sverre undisputed King The Conflict 
with Archbishop Eystein His Flight to England Return and 
Death Eystein 's two Great Works Sverre and Archbishop Erik 
Sverre's Kristenret The Points in Dispute between Erik and 
Sverre Erik Flies from Norway Sverre Excommunicated 
Bishop Nicholas of Oslo Sverre's Coronation Bishop Nicholas 
Flies to Denmark The Formation of the Bagler Party Civil 
War Innocent III. places Norway under an Interdict Its Effect 
not great in Norway Sverre's Apologia Sverre takes T0nsberg, 
1202 His Illness and Death in Bergen His Character. 

THE personality of Sverre Sigurdss0n is, perhaps, the 
most striking which we meet in the history of Norway. 
He was the illegitimate son of Sigurd Mund, in whose 
household his mother, Gunhild, had been a servant. The 
date of his birth is placed at 1151, the year before the visit 
of Cardinal Nicholas. Whether the future king first saw 
the light in Norway or the Faeroe Islands is doubtful, but 
it is certain that his early days were spent in the latter 

His mother, Gunhild, married a man named Unas, who 
was brother to Bishop Roe, the prelate of these islands. 
Here Sverre grew up, passing as the son of Unas, and his 
quickness and intelligence attracted the attention of his 
supposed uncle, the bishop, who, as he was in need of native 
clergy, had him educated for the Church's service, and 
having passed through the minor orders, he was finally 
ordained priest about the year 1174 or 1175. 


Very soon after this, his mother revealed to him the 
secret of his paternity, and thus changed the whole current 
of his life. " If I am born to a crown " (said the young 
priest), " then shall I strive to win it, cost what it may, for 
without it life has no value for me." Sverre knew full 
well that illegitimacy was no bar to his claim, and that he 
alone, according to the old law of Norway, was the 
rightful king. He quickly made up his mind to claim 
what he knew to be his lawful inheritance, but he was not 
the man to do anything rashly or to endanger his chances 
of success by any premature move. Armed with a letter of 
introduction from Bishop Eoe, to the great Archbishop 
Eystein, he went to Norway in order to see for himself the 
position of affairs, but determining for the present to 
conceal his identity. Arrived in the country, he saw at 
once that the power of Magnus and Erling was too great to 
be easily shaken, and that it would be quite useless to make 
known his claim or to present his letter to the archbishop. 
Instead, therefore, of going to Nidaros, he made his way to 
Vermland, to the house of his sister Cecilia, who received 
him as her brother and made him welcome. 

This was in the year 1177, shortly after the battle at Ke, 
near T0nsberg, where Magnus had crushed the Birkebeiner 
and slain their chief Eystein M0ila. The remnants of this 
faction had taken refuge with Cecilia, and they at once 
recognized in Sverre the very chief they wanted namely, a 
descendant of Harald Haarfagre in the male line. The 
prudent Sverre, however, was very unwilling to have the 
leadership of this handful of defeated men thrust upon him, 
but the Birkebeiners would brook no refusal, and insisted 
on his becoming their chief. Seeing there was no help for 
it, he reluctantly agreed to their proposal, and taking his 
courage a deux mains, embarked on what appeared to be 
a forlorn hope. At Easter he started northwards with his 
small band, having obtained what help he could from his 


sister. He did not dare to go through the frequented parts 
of the country, but made his way through the forests, 
enduring terrible hardships from the fierce cold of the 
winter. Having established himself in Jaemtland, where 
he gathered around him a considerable body of men, he 
determined on a bold stroke. Moving into Tr0ndelagen he 
encamped for a time on an island in the Selbusj0, not far 
from Nidaros. Shortly after, with that wonderful good 
luck which seldom deserted him, he suddenly attacked and 
captured the town, and, calling a Thing, was proclaimed 
king by the b0nder. The Tr0nder were always well 
disposed towards him, and it was only the armed power of 
Erling which had forced them into submission to Magnus's 

Notwithstanding his unexpected stroke of good fortune 
in the capture of the town, Sverre at once saw that he was 
not yet able to meet Magnus and Erling in the field, and 
on their approach with an army to recapture Nidaros, he at 
once evacuated the town and betook himself to the south. 

The next two years Sverre went through a series of 
extraordinary adventures whilst he carried on a guerilla 
war against Magnus. Often reduced to the greatest 
extremities, and over and over again almost captured, he 
always managed to extricate himself and to astonish his 
foes, by appearing unexpectedly in places where they least 
looked for him. Through the wildest mountain districts of 
the west of Norway, Sverre and his men roamed, and to 
the present day the memory of his journeys is preserved in 
such names as Sverre's Skar and Sverre's Stigen, passes 
and paths over which a goat could scarcely travel, but by 
which Sverre and his men escaped from the hands of their 

At the end of two years spent in this way, Sverre felt 
himself strong enough to take the field against Magnus and 
Erling, and moving north again descended on Nidaros and 


defeated and slew Erling Skakke in a battle at Kalvskindet, 
near the town. The death of the great chief was a severe 
blow to the power of Magnus, but Archbishop System did 
his best to encourage him and to rally the forces against 
Sverre, The next year, however, 1180, a decisive battle 
was fought, again near Nidaros, at Ilevolden, in which 
Magnus was totally defeated and obliged to fly to 
Denmark. The archbishop also took refuge in flight and 
went to England, whence he issued a sentence of ex- 
communication against the now victorious and openly 
acknowledged king, Sverre the first time this great weapon 
of the Church had been directed against a king of 

The struggle against Magnus was not yet, however, at an 
end. He found support in Denmark and returned again to 
Norway, and the war was resumed and lasted for some 
time. Again, however, Magnus was obliged to fly to 
Denmark in 1183. The year following he made one more 
effort to wrest the kingdom from Sverre, and this time he 
very nearly succeeded. Sverre was in the Sogne Fjord 
with a small fleet and engaged in punishing the Sogninger 
for their share in the resistance to his power. He had 
sailed up the narrow Sogndals Fjord, when Magnus, with a 
fleet which much outnumbered his opponents', came from 
Bergen, and caught the redoubtable Sverre in a trap from 
which there was no escape. A fierce battle ensued at Nore, 
the narrowest part of the fjord, and in spite of his vastly 
superior force, Magnus was utterly defeated and slain, and 
now Sverre was undisputed lord of Norway. 

We must now turn back to Sverre 's other great 
antagonist, the archbishop. The excommunication which 
he had issued from England against the king on his 
arrival in that country, does not seem to have had the effect 
of injuring Sverre. Indeed, it seems probable it was but 
little known in Norway, and was certainly unheeded. The 


archbishop and the clergy generally had from the commence- 
ment of the struggle, done their very utmost to inflame the 
minds of the people against Sverre. He was described as 
a " recreant priest/' a deceiver, a godless sorcerer, who 
owed his good fortune to the devil ; and they promised to 
those who fell in combat against him an entrance into 
paradise " before their blood should be cold upon the earth." 
The archbishop spent three years of exile in England, where 
he represented his antagonist in a very unfavourable light, 
to judge by the remarks of some of his English con- 

Ey stein, with all his hostility to King Sverre, was a 
very prudent man, and when he saw that there was no 
doubt that the latter would finally win in the struggle, 
he made peace with the king in Bergen, and removed the 
ban, and in 1183 (the year before the defeat and death of 
Magnus) he returned again to his see. 

From that time on until his death, five years later, he 
seems to have had enough of the strife, and to have 
devoted himself with great assiduity to the care of his 

* During Archbishop Eystein's three years' stay in England he 
spent a part of his time at Bury St. Edmunds, and seems to have been 
there during the famous election of Abbot Samson, of which Jocelin de 
Brakelond tells us in his chronicle. See Metcalfe's Introduction to 
"Passio et Miracula Beati Olaui," p. 52. 

William, of Newbury, Book III., Chap, vi., says : " In 1180, Eystein, 
archbishop of Trondhjem, refusing to crown Sverre, a successful rebel, 
who had defeated Magnus, king of Norway, was driven into exile and 
came to England." William further describes Sverre as " famosissimus 
ille presbyter," who " tempore non modico sub tyranni nomine de- 
bacchatus." He also calls him " execrandus" and " nefandus presbyter," 
" ilia virga furoris Domini." 

The same writer, however, in spite of the above very choice con- 
troversial epithets, adds later on, that the inscription on his seal was 
"Sverus Rex Magnus, ferus ut leo, mitis ut agnus," inasmuch as he 
showed clemency to those whom he had subdued and showed reverence 
to churches and monasteries. 


diocese, and did much to atone for his share in the 
desolating strife of the previous years, in which, however, 
his actions seem to have been based on worthy motives, 
and not on the lower ones of self-interest and aggrandise- 
ment. In addition to the important part which he played 
in connection with the advancement of the power of the 
Church under Magnus, the great archbishop must ever be 
remembered for his work as a legislator, and as a cathedral 

The closing years of his life were devoted to a careful 
revision of the Frosta Thing's law, both on its civil and 
ecclesiastical side. In the disorders of the preceding 
generation, many of the older provisions of the law had 
been neglected. These were again enforced, and every 
effort was made to secure the reign of law and order. 
The peace of the Thing, which was such a prominent 
feature of ancient days, was again affirmed, and provision 
was made for the better order of the country generally. 
The Kristenret, which probably dated from St. Olaf 's time, 
was revised on the lines of the famous agreement with 
Magnus Erlingss0n, so as to secure the privileges of the 
clergy and the archbishop, but in a fair and statesmanlike 
manner. These laws were now carefully written out, and the 
collection was henceforth known as " The Golden Feather," 
to distinguish it from the older compilation of Magnus 
the Good, which was called "The Grey Goose. "* The 
archbishop's collection probably received its name from the 
fact of its being beautifully i]luminated. 

Eystein, who loved the people well, endeared himself 
further to them by procuring from Pope Alexander III. a 
relaxation of the law with respect to work on holy days. 
He well knew how essential to the prosperity of the people 
the harvest of the sea always was, and, further, that it was 
necessary to secure the herrings whenever they approached 

* See p. 96. 
C.S.N. M 


the coast. Formerly fishing was forbidden on holy days, 
but the archbishop had the rule so far relaxed, as to permit 
the fishing whenever the herring appeared, save only on 
holy days of the highest rank. 

To Eystein we owe also the beginning of the great 
cathedral of Trondhjem. He felt, not unnaturally, that, 
now that Nidaros had become the seat of a metropolitan, 
it was only right that a cathedral of more imposing pro- 
portions should be erected, than that which sheltered 
the body of Norway's patron saint. We have seen how 
two churches at that time stood where the cathedral now 
stands. One was the Maria Kirke, built by Harald Haard- 
raade on the place where the saint's body had lain for a 
year in the sand. The other was the Church of the Holy 
Trinity, commonly called Christ Church, the foundation of 
Olaf Kyrre, which was then the cathedral. In order to 
carry out his plan for the new cathedral, Eystein had the 
Maria Kirke taken down, and the materials carried across 
the river to the newly-founded monastery at Elgesaeter for 
the Augustinians. He then began the splendid pile which 
was completed some fifty years later, and which was the 
most magnificent ecclesiastical building in the North, and a 
noble monument of the great archbishop.* 

One of the last official acts of his life was to pro- 
nounce the dissolution of the marriage of the king's sister 
Cecilia, who had been forced by Erling into a union with 
Folkvid, the Swedish chief. The Church was the natural 
guardian of the sanctity of this sacrament, and was not 
inclined, at that time especially, to relax the law of Chris- 
tian marriage. But the archbishop, on the facts coming 
into review before him, declared Cecilia's marriage to be 
null and void, on the ground that she had acted under 

* About the same time the cathedral of Christ Church in Bergen 
was completed, and the relics of Sfc. Sunniva transferred to it from the 
island of Selje. 


compulsion, and was not a consenting party, which the 
law of the Church naturally required in all cases. 
After her marriage had been declared void, Cecilia married 
Baard Guttormss0n, of Rein, a very powerful chief among 
the b0nder of Tr0ndelagen, and her son by this union, as 
we shall see later on, was for a time king in Norway. 

In the close of 1187 the archbishop lay dying in 
Nidaros. King Sverre was at that time in the city, and 
Eystein sent for him. What then occurred we only know 
from Sverre's account, but there seems no reason to doubt 
that a full reconciliation took place between the two great 
men. The old archbishop would hardly have wished to 
die, with feelings of enmity in his heart, towards the man 
whom he had so strongly, though conscientiously opposed, 
but with whom he had lived in outward agreement in the 
closing years of his life. On both sides there was much 
to forgive ; the archbishop had denounced Sverre in very 
harsh language, and preferred charges against him in the 
heat of the conflict, which in calmer moments he must have 
regretted and felt to be groundless ; Sverre also had not 
been free from blame for his share in the strife, and we 
must hope that this private conference ended, as it ought 
to have done, in the old archbishop giving his blessing to 
the man whose bitter opponent he had once been. 

Eystein died on January 26th, 1188, and was buried in 
the sacristy of the new cathedral which he had begun. At 
his funeral Sverre made a speech in which he declared that 
the archbishop had admitted, in their last interview, that 
he was wrong in the course he had taken in so violently 
opposing him. This statement, of course, only rested on 
the authority of the king himself. 

Thus passed away the famous Archbishop Eystein, a 
truly great Churchman and great man in every respect, 
and in the steps which he took to advance the claims of 
the Church, he only acted in accordance with the spirit of 



his day, not from unworthy motives of personal ambition 
and glory. He was long loved and reverenced by the 
people and clergy, and in 1229 he was declared to be a 
saint by a provincial synod held at Nidaros, but no formal 
papal canonization seems ever to have taken place. 

It will be seen that Sverre, during the years in which he 
fought for the throne, never specially attacked the Church, 
though its whole power was directed against him, as the 
opponent of her nominee, Magnus Erlingss0n, and that he 
had lived in peace from 1183 to 1187 (the period we have 
now reached) with the head and champion of the Church 
in Norway. This, however, was not to last ; the great and 
fierce struggle was now to begin. 

Sverre, when he had at last, after 1184, firmly established 
his authority over the whole country, set himself to remedy 
the disordered state of the land, and brought in many wise 
measures of reform. To improve the administration of 
the law he appointed eleven lagmcend in different parts 
of the country, who were authorized to judge in all matters 
of dispute. The people had the choice of having their 
cases settled by these officers, or by the older court of the 
Thing. He also appointed officials called sysselmcend, who 
held the authority of revenue officers and district judges. 
The result of these reforms was to check the power of the 
greater chiefs among the b0nder, and to enlist the mass of 
the people on the king's side. 

After the death of Archbishop Eystein the ordinary 
course (if the new ecclesiastical law had been carried out) 
would have been for the chapter of Nidaros to proceed to 
the election of a new metropolitan. Sverre, however, was 
not prepared to permit this, nor, on the other hand, did he 
follow his uncle Inge's example and nominate a new 
archbishop. He adopted a middle course, which showed a 
desire to conciliate his clerical opponents. A few months 
after Eystein's death he called a meeting in Bergen of the 


bishops and principal men, and there brought forward the 
question of the appointment. The general feeling of the 
gathering was in favour of Bishop Erik Ivarss0n, of 
Stavanger, a man of learning who had studied in Paris, 
and whom the late prelate was supposed to have desired as 
his successor. Sverre at first raised some objections, but 
finally gave way, and Erik was chosen and went to Kome, 
where Pope Clement III. invested him with the pallium, 
and he returned to Norway in 1189 and took possession of 
his see. 

At first all went smoothly between the king and the 
archbishop. The latter immediately set to work to correct 
many of the abuses which had, in spite of the strong rule 
of Ey stein, sprung up in his diocese, and his reforms were 
all in a good direction. He enforced the canon law, which 
forbade the clergy to take any part in warfare, a restriction 
which was much needed, as a number of them had in the 
civil wars so far forgotten their office, as to join in many of 
the battles. This prohibition he extended to Iceland, a 
part of his province, where it seemed to be even more 
needed than in Norway. With the laity he took steps to 
stop the spread of immorality and to enforce the Church's 
law respecting affinity, which had, it seemed, been much 
relaxed and many marriages contracted within the 
forbidden degrees. 

In these reforms he was fully supported by King Sverre, 
and it seemed as if the heads of the Church and State were 
now working well together. 

The archbishop held a council in Bergen, in 1190, of 
the bishops, at which Sverre was present, and at this a 
number of regulations were made with respect to breaches 
of the Church's law which were punishable by excom- 
munication. This was actually known as Sverre's Kris- 
tenret, which clearly indicates that at that time both the 
king and the bishops were working harmoniously together. 


This concord, however, was not likely to last long, when 
we remember that the king and the archbishop held 
diametrically opposite views as to the relations between 
the Church and the State ; and the storm, which had only 
been lulled for a time, soon broke out with redoubled 

Archbishop Erik had no sooner returned to Nidaros, than 
in a sermon preached in his cathedral he made a furious 
attack on the Birkebeiner, which immediately raised the 
anger of the king, and the old controversy was at once 
revived. Most of the points in dispute were not new, but 
they embodied the rival claims of the king and the Church. 
We arrive at them most fully in the Bull which the pope 
subsequently issued, confirming the archbishop's privileges, 
and we may briefly summarize them as follows : 

1. The Coronation. The king claimed to be crowned 
by the archbishop as a matter of right, and not of favour. 

2. TJie question of the Archiepiscopal Income. We 
have seen that Ey stein adroitly managed to double that 
part, which was derived from fines by the substitution of 
payments in the S0lv0re, and not the old Iag0re. Sverre 
demanded a return to the old method, or, failing this, 
that the king's share of the fines should be paid in the 
same way. 

3. The Rights of Patronage. The king demanded that 
the ancient right of the sovereigns to nominate to vacant 
sees should stand, instead of the election by the chapters. 
Another and a newer point was with regard to the right of 
appointment to the h0gendes kirker, or private chapels. 
This had customarily been exercised by the founders, royal 
and other, but the archbishop desired that it should rest 
with the diocesan. 

4. TJie Clergy and the Civil Courts. This was practically 
the same dispute as between Becket and Henry II. at the 
Constitutions of Clarendon Archbishop Erik desiring that 


the ecclesiastical courts alone should judge the clergy for 
all offences. 

5. The Archbishops' Retinue. After gaining the dignity 
of metropolitans, the archbishops of Nidaros had striven 
to increase their following, and to surround themselves 
with a court and state which would rival that of the king. 
Eystein and Erik added to the archbishops' retinue, and 
Sverre decided to restrict it to what the law allowed viz., 
thirty men, of whom only twelve were to be armed, and no 
ships of war, such as Eystein had possessed. 

These were the chief points in dispute, and they were 
quite sufficient for a struggle to the death, between the 
king and the archbishop. The former in all his demands 
took his stand on the old law of St. Olaf, which his son 
Magnus the Good had embodied in " The Grey Goose," 
while the archbishop relied on " The Golden Feather " and 
the canon law. 

Erik, seeing that the king was quite determined, and 
that his power was too strong for him, sought safety in 
flight, and in the summer of 1191 he made his way to 
Denmark, where the Archbishop Absalon of Lund received 
him with open arms. 

From Denmark, Erik probably early in 1192, laid his 
case before the Pope Celestine III., in which the points of 
dispute we have just enumerated were fully set forth. In 
the letter the archbishop seems to have made a very fair 
statement of his case, without exaggeration or any of the 
bitter personal attacks on the king which afterwards 
marked the controversy. It will be seen, however, that 
the demands on both sides embodied the rival claims of 
the king and the Church, which were practically as irre- 
concilable in Norway as in other countries, and as neither 
party was disposed to give way, there was but little 
prospect of peace. 

It was a question whether the old law of the kingdom 


of Norway and the ecclesiastical arrangements of St. Olaf 
should stand, or whether the recent compact between the 
feebler kings in the days of Cardinal Nicholas and Arch- 
bishop Eystein should supplant them. Sverre was the 
champion of the ancient rights of the Crown and the early 
Church, Erik of the new claims of the Church at the time 
j of the greatest papal arrogance. Throughout the whole 
long controversy Sverre, on his side, dwelt most on those 
points which affected the relations of the Church and the 
people such as the fines, the rights of patronage, &c. 
and the archbishop on matters which were more purely 
ecclesiastical. Soon after Erik arrived in Denmark he 
unfortunately lost his eyesight, but this did not impair his 
power of carrying on the dispute. 

It is a little difficult here, to explain the delay which 
followed the appeal to the pope, before any decisive action 
was taken by the pontiff; but it would seem as if 
Celestine III. made inquiries of the archbishop, which were 
sufficiently satisfactory to the former, so that he authorised 
the archbishop to excommunicate Sverre, which he 
accordingly did in 1193. 

When the information about this duly reached Sverre 
he treated it with supreme contempt, and in his speeches 
at the Things even went so far as to jest about the arch- 
bishop's blindness, and to declare that there was nothing 
whatever to prevent him returning to his see at Nidaros. 

If the flight of Erik had delivered Sverre from one active 
antagonist in Norway, it left him with a foe much more 
malignant and treacherous, in Nicholas the bishop of Oslo. 
This man was of an ancient family in the Nordfjord district, 
and closely connected with the royal house. His mother 
having been left a widow by Harald Gille, subsequently 
married Arne, Nicholas's father. In his early days he 
fought on the side of Magnus Erlingss0n, and was later 
ordained priest. When the vacancy in the see of Stavanger 


occurred, by the translation of Erik to Nidaros, he was 
chosen for his successor. King Sverre, however, refused 
to accept him, and being a keen judge of men, he described 
Nicholas as a man with " a smooth tongue, a hare's heart, 
and the fidelity of a fox." That he deserved this estimate 
was abundantly shown by his subsequent history, When 
Sverre objected to his nomination to the see of Stav anger, 
Nicholas applied himself to the queen, Margreta, who, after 
many entreaties, at last induced Sverre to consent, though 
he foresaw that both he and she would have cause to regret 
it. Almost immediately afterwards, however, Nicholas was 
translated to Oslo. This took place probably in the year in 
which Erik fled to Denmark. 

In 1192 a rebellion against Sverre was raised by two of 
Magnus Erlingss0n's party, Hallkel Jonss0n and Sigurd 
Erlingss0D. They took as their chief a son of King Magnus, 
named Sigurd, and gave Sverre much trouble before he was 
able to crush them, which he did finally at Florevaag, near 
Bergen, in the early part of 1194, when Jonss0n and the 
young chief Sigurd were killed. There is no doubt that 
this rebellion was prompted by Bishop Nicholas, and Sverre 
was not long before he called him to account. 

The king now decided to take a step which he hoped 
would strengthen his position very much and finally disarm 
the opposition of the Church, but which unfortunately 
seems, on the whole, to have had the opposite effect. We 
have seen how one of his demands to the archbishop was that 
he should be ready to crown him as a matter of royal right, 
and that the archbishop had refused. Though the coronation 
of a king was an entirely new ceremony in Norway, yet 
Sverre thought that as Magnus was crowned and had received 
the blessing of the Church, it would be well for him to 
have the same sanction, which he believed would make a 
favourable impression on the minds of the people. 

After crushing the rebellion of Hallkel Jonss0n, Sverre 


felt the time was come for this. There is a story in the 
Sverre Saga, that there was, at this time, a papal legate in 
Norway, whom Sverre met at Konghelle whom he almost 
succeeded in inducing to crown him, but that the clergy 
poisoned his mind against the king, and on his refusal, 
Sverre ordered him out of the kingdom. This account 
seems to be open to considerable doubt, as at this time the 
excommunication against Sverre, pronounced by Archbishop 
Erik, was a year old, and it was quite impossible for the 
legate (if there was one at all in Norway at the time) not 
to have known of it. 

Sverre, however, decided on being crowned. When in 
Oslo he met Bishop Nicholas, and charged him, at an inter- 
view, with treason, for his share in the late rising and 
sternly threatened him. The "hare-hearted" bishop was 
terrified by the king's anger, and begged for mercy and 
swore to be faithful in the future. Sverre, keeping Nicholas 
with him, and calling upon Nial of Stavanger and Thore of 
Hamar to join him, at once set out for Bergen. The see of 
that city was just then vacant by the death of Bishop Paul. 
Sverre had his chaplain, Martin (an Englishman by birth), 
chosen as his successor, and immediately consecrated by the 
three bishops. Sverre had now all the bishops of Norway 
with him in Bergen, except, of course, the archbishop, and 
he was by them crowned with great solemnity in the 
cathedral, on the festival of St. Peter and St. Paul, 1194. 
Nicholas, we know, and some of the others, afterwards 
declared that they had acted under force, a statement which 
was, in his case at any rate, perfectly true.^ 

* We may, however, very reasonably refuse to accept Roger de 
Hoveden's account of the matter when he says : " Amongst these [the 
bishops who crowned Sverre] was the bishop of Wie [Viken, that is 
Oslo], whose name was Nicholas. He declared that he was unwilling 
to be present at the Coronation because of the absence of the archbishop. 
On hearing which Sverre caused the bishop to be seized and to be bound 


Meanwhile an important missive was on its way from 
Borne. The pope had taken a long time to act officially on 
the letter of Archbishop Erik, but a few days before the 
coronation of Sverre, namely on June 15th, 1194, Celestine 
III. issued a Bull in which he took the see of Nidaros under 
the protection of himself and St. Peter, and confirmed in 
every detail the claims of the archbishop as set forth in his 
letter to the pope in 1192. The bull wound up in the 
customary manner with threatening excommunication upon 
any one who resisted the claims of the Church. The tidings 
of this came to Denmark, and soon after to Norway, but 
not, of course, until after the coronation of Sverre. When 
the pope learned that the four bishops had actually crowned 
the excommunicated king, he was naturally furious, and on 
November 18th in the same year he solemnly excommuni- 
cated the bishops who had taken part in the ceremony for 
their unheard-of conduct in "anointing an excommunicated 
priest as king." The archbishop followed this up by order- 
ing his four suffragans at once to appear before him in 
Denmark, and explain their action. Notwithstanding the 
thunders of Rome the four bishops stood firm, Nicholas of 
Oslo, undoubtedly most unwillingly, from fear of Sverre. 

Early the following year, 1195, Sverre called a meeting 
of the bishops and some leading men in Bergen to consider 
the best course to take. The four excommunicated pre- 
lates were present, and also the bishop of Skaalholt, in 
Iceland, and the bishop of the Orkneys. At this meeting 
it was decided to send two representatives to Rome to 
lay the case of the bishops and the king before the pope. 
The men selected for this delicate mission were Thore, 

on the seashore on a small eminence, so that the waves of the sea flowing 
on, nearly entered his mouth, upon which the bishop, being terrified, 
consented to the wishes of Sverre Birkebein and consecrated him king 
in Bergen." Such a proceeding would be very unlike Sverre's usual 
treatment of his opponents. 


bishop of Hamar, and a monk named Kichard. Before the 
conference separated, all the bishops again renewed their 
assurances of being faithful to the king and then went 
home. The value of the promises of Bishop Nicholas was 
shown soon after, for on his return to Oslo he promptly 
fled from the country, and betook himself to Archbishop 
Erik, with whom he made his peace. 

It was not likely that Sverre's enemies (now that they 
had got Nicholas over to them) would remain long without 
attacking him ; and we come now to the formation of the 
Bagler party, which for a long time carried on a desolating 
strife in Norway. 

The way it came about was a strange one. The Eastern 
emperor, Alexius III., who had just deposed his brother 
Isaac, was in need of recruits, and sent a man named 
Reidar (a Norwegian probably by birth) to Sverre, asking 
permission to enlist men for the service of the emperor. 
Just at that time, 1195, Sverre did not see his way to do 
so, but later on, in 1196, thinking possibly that some of his 
opponents might join Reidar, gave him leave. The 
emperor's representative quickly collected a large number 
of men, chiefly in Viken, and with them crossed over to 
Denmark. Sverre had, however, made a mistake, which 
very nearly proved fatal to his cause. As soon as Reidar 
and his men got to Denmark they found Bishop Nicholas 
waiting for them, and very soon the emperor was forgotten, 
and they were ready to fall in with the treacherous bishop's 

Nicholas had one of the usual pretenders to the throne of 
Norway ready. This was a young man named Inge, who 
was said to be the son of Magnus Erlingss0n, but who was 
most probably a Dane. The episcopal party which 
Nicholas had thus got together, were known in Norway as 
the Baglers, from the word bag all, a bishop's crozier. This 
party, when the strife began in earnest, showed that there 


was very little of religious spirit among them, though 
nominally contending for the Church's cause, for they 
pillaged and destroyed impartially on all sides, and neither 
churches nor ecclesiastical property escaped their hands. 

Before we allude to the struggle between Sverre and the 
Baglers, we must advert to the strange termination of the 
bishops' and Sverre's Embassy to the pope. It is not 
known what actually took place in Home ; but there is no 
doubt the envoys reached Denmark, on their way home, in 
the winter of 1196 7, and that there was with them there 
a Cardinal Fidentius, who had gone to Denmark for the 
purpose of collecting the papal revenue. After a consider- 
able time some Danes came to Sverre, with the information 
that both the bishop and Richard had died suddenly, and 
produced a papal letter, duly sealed, which they said had been 
left with them as security for a loan. Sverre paid over the 
money, said to be advanced, and the men departed. Soon 
after Sverre had the letter, purporting to be from the pope, 
read out in Nidaros, in which Celestine declared that he 
was satisfied with the explanations of the embassy, and 
that he released Sverre from the excommunication. 

This seems to have been without much doubt a forgery ; 
but the charge which was subsequently made in some 
quarters against Sverre, that he first had his men murdered 
and then forged the letter, is in the highest degree improb- 
able ; and although Sverre's enemies, and the pope himself, 
did not hesitate to denounce him, and to declare the letter 
to be forged, no responsible authority ever charged him 
with murder. 

There is every reason, however, to believe that Thore 
of Harnar and Richard were poisoned, for the cardinal 
undoubtedly was; he had made himself most intensely 
hated, even by the strongest papal adherents, by the way 
in which he had extorted money in Denmark, and it is 
thought that the poisoning of Sverre's men (who were with 


him at the same time) was unintentional. It is quite 
possible that Sverre, now in great straits, assented to the 
letter passing as genuine ; or it may have been that his 
ambassadors, when they failed in Kome, procured there (as 
was easily done at the time) a forged seal, which they 
attached to the letter which eventually came to Sverre's 

It would not be fair to blame Sverre too severely for the 
use of a forged document, in his contest with the papacy, 
when we remember in how great a degree the papal claims 
in Europe, themselves rested on those " metropolitanis 
muscipula," the False Decretals. 

The party of the Baglers, with Inge and Nicholas, began 
their attack on Sverre's power in Norway about the same 
time as the ambassadors on their journey from Kome died 
in Denmark. The details of this desperate struggle belong 
chiefly to the secular history of Norway, and need not 
occupy us long here. It was a fierce conflict, in which the 
king had to put forth all his strength, and during which he 
seemed over and over again on the verge of ruin. The 
Baglers began in the south, but soon went north and 
captured Nidaros ; from it they were driven by Sverre, and 
again they seized it. Though defeated several times by the 
king, they managed to collect fresh forces, and at one time 
Sverre was left without any fleet, while the Baglers ravaged 
the coast. During Sverre's absence they attacked Bergen, 
and when they failed to capture the Borg, Nicholas, who 
was with them, suggested burning the town. Even the 
Baglers raised an objection to this, as it would involve the 
destruction of churches, but the bishop assured them that 
as Sverre's supporters were all excommunicated, the 
churches where his clergy ministered, were no more sacred 
than common houses. In the conflagration which followed, 
six churches are said to have been destroyed ! 

Thus matters stood in 1198, when things seemed to go 


from bad to worse for Sverre, and a heavy blow fell upon 
him. After Bishop Thore's death and Nicholas' flight and 
treachery, there were only two bishops left who were faith- 
ful to him, for Thore's successor does not seem to have then 
come to his see, after his consecration in Denmark. Of 
these two, Nial of Stavanger fled to Denmark, and Sverre 
was left with only Martin of Bergen, his former chaplain. 

The great weapon of the Church's armoury was now 
about to be employed against Sverre. The aged Pope 
Celestine III. died in January, 1198, and immediately after, 
the conclave unanimously chose as his successor, the famous 
Cardinal Lothair, of the noble Conti family, who ascended 
the papal throne with the title of Innocent III. The new 
occupant of the apostolic see was filled with ideas as to 
the authority of the papacy over the princes or Europe, 
loftier perhaps than any of his predecessors, even in the 
midst of the struggle with the Kaisers. Innocent was not 
long before he determined to try and crush the " apostate 
priest," as he termed Sverre, and to force the kings of 
Norway to hold their royal office as a gift from the Church. 
As one of the most prominent members of the Curia, it was 
certain that he knew well the facts of the quarrel between 
the king and the archbishop, which had been in progress 
for the previous eight years. 

His action towards Sverre was the same which he adopted, 
a few years later, to a very different kind of monarch, John 
of England. No sooner had he begun his pontificate than 
he turned his attention to Norway, and in 1198 despatched 
no fewer than five papal letters in connection with the case 
of Sverre and the archbishop. In his letter to Erik he 
announced his intention to use the most terrible punishment 
of the Church of the middle ages, the Interdict. 

He pointed out to the archbishop that the existence of 
such a king as Sverre was intended by God as a visitation 
on the Church in Norway for the sins of the bishops and 


people ; that Sverre was by his own admission a bastard, 
who had dared to be admitted to the priesthood, in defiance 
of the Church's law ; that he was a forger of the bull of 
Celestine, an oppressor of the Church, and persecutor of the 
clergy. Then he ordered the archbishop to declare all 
Sverre's followers excommunicated, to close the churches, and 
forbid all services and sacraments (save only holy baptism 
and extreme unction), and to deny to all of Sverre's men 
Christian burial. 

Dealing with Martin, bishop of Bergen, he commanded 
the archbishop at once to suspend him, and bid him repair 
immediately to Eome. 

Not content with this, the pope sought to secure the aid 
of the temporal power to drive away Sverre from his king- 
dom, and wrote urgent letters to the kings of Denmark 
and Sweden calling upon them, as faithful sons of the 
Church, to at once invade Norway, and drive out this 
" monster " and " limb of the devil," so that he would no 
longer be a persecutor of the Church of God. We may say 
at once, with reference to this, that both Knut of Denmark 
and Sverker Karlss0n of Sweden manifested no wish what- 
ever to carry out the amiable designs of Innocent. The 
Danish king contented himself with giving shelter to Erik, 
and some of the Bagler from time to time, but on the 
whole, both monarchs seemed to have had a good deal of 
sympathy with the Norwegian king. 

The Interdict in Norway does not seem to have carried 
with it any of the terrors which the* same weapon, later on, 
produced in England. It must be remembered that all the 
bishops, except one, were absent from the country, and 
there was really no one to enforce its provisions. Also it 
must have been a very long time before its existence could 
be known all over the land, and in the parts where Sverre's 
authority was recognized it was most likely that it made 
no difference, and the king himself had always priests to 


say Mass and to perform all ecclesiastical duties. On the 
whole we may take it that, formidable, nay terrible, as 
an Interdict was in other lands, its effect in Norway was, 
comparatively speaking, slight, and in Sverre's Saga, at 
any rate, there is no notice of any general closing of the 

Then another blow, which Sverre must have personally 
felt very much, fell on him. Martin, bishop of Bergen, 
who up to now had to his king, been "faithful found 
among the faithless " unable any longer to resist the 
pressure which must have been put upon him, fled from 
Norway to Denmark to seek reconciliation with the 
archbishop. This took place in 1199. 

Sverre was not a man to submit quietly to the charges 
which the pope and the archbishop laid against him ; and 
he issued, probably at the end of 1197 or in the spring of 
1198, a very remarkable document, in which he defended 
himself, and which embodied very fully his views of the 
relations between the Church and State. This notable 
defence sets forth the lines upon which, the kings and 
kaisers fought and struggled, against the popes of the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, .and Sverre's reply was 
in its way, worthy to rank with the defence of the Kaiser 
Frederick II. in his contest with Gregory IX. not very 
long after. 

This document was known as the Tale mod JBisJcoperne 
(speech against the bishops), which we may best render 
Sverre's Apology. Though not actually written by the 
king (he is said to have employed a learned priest who had 
studied at Bologna),^ it was clearly inspired by him, 
and his early studies in the canon law, before his 
ordination as priest, must have stood him in good 
stead. This document was widely circulated in Norway 

* It does not appear what was the name of this Peter de Vinea of 
the North ; but it may have been Einar, Sverre's son-in-law. 

C.S.N. N 


and read at all the Things, and seems to have produced a 
very great impression upon the people and to have helped 
the king's cause not a little. 

We may briefly summarize Sverre's Apology as follows : 

It begins with the statement that it was necessary that 
the people should know the true facts of the case respecting 
the quarrel between the king and the bishops. Then he 
uses the illustration of the body and the members, and 
how all should work together. The eyes of the body were 
the bishops, the tongue the priests, the ears the deacons, 
the shoulders and back the chiefs and principal men, 
the legs and feet the b0nder, and the heart the king. 
Then he enters upon a scathing criticism of the actions 
of the bishops and clergy. The eyes, which should see 
aright and guide the body, squinted, and did not rightly 
perform their functions. The bishops forced men to 
build churches and then drove them from them. The 
priests were silent and set a bad example to men, and 
when they were guilty of acts of injustice they sought to 
evade being tried by the ordinary courts of law. The 
bishops and clergy together deceived the pope, and pre- 
vented him from learning the truth respecting the king 
and his party. 

Then comes a great deal about the royal authority. 
The king's authority comes from God, and is not given by 
the Church ; he is the protector of the Church, and should 
receive the support and obedience of its officers. Our Lord, 
by His example and by the teaching of the apostles, 
enjoined submission even to a heathen emperor. 

The king, as God's appointed protector of the Church, 
has a right to appoint men to office in it, and for the 
exercise of this, he is responsible to God. No king has the 
right to alienate this power from the Crown. The arrange- 
ment with Cardinal Nicholas was only in the case (which 
then existed) of there being more than one king, and was 


only a temporary measure, as was shown by the fact 
that when Inge was sole king, he had nominated Eystein 
to the archbishopric. Sverre's object was not to bring 
shame on the bishops and clergy, but rather to set the 
truth before the people. If they accuse and excommunicate 
the king for exercising that power which God has given to 
him, they encroach on his prerogative and sin against God, 
and their excommunication does not hurt the king, but 
recoils on those who issue it.^ 

Such is an outline of this remarkable document, by 
which it will be seen that Sverre regarded the royal power 
and authority as every bit as sacred a thing as that of the 
Church, and repudiated entirely the way in which the 
kings, in the past few years, had alienated the rights of 
the Crown. He went back to the times of St. Olaf and his 
immediate successors, and pointed out that he was only 
following in the steps of those famous men. 

It will be seen by this that Sverre was not yet conquered, 
and had no idea of giving up the position he had taken. 
Yet now he had practically lost the whole of Norway, except 
Tr0ndelagen, where the people, as a body, remained still 
faithful to him. But at what seemed the very darkest 
moment of his life with the greater part of his kingdom in 
the hands of his enemies, deserted by the bishops and many 
of the clergy, himself excommunicated, and the land under 
an Interdict a change for the better began. Early in 
1199 he managed to build a sufficient number of ships to 
encounter the Baglers at sea, and in June of that year he 
gained a decisive victory over their forces in Strinds0en, near 
Nidaros. His arch-enemy Nicholas was present with the 
Baglers and fled with them ; he seems to have had enough 
of fighting, as he does not afterwards appear to have taken 
any active part in the subsequent battles. The next year, 

* Sverre's defence exists in a modern edition by Professor Storm, 
Christiania, 1885. 



1200, a determined attempt was made to crush Sverre by 
a great rising in Viken, but he managed by his own 
extraordinarily rapid movements to attack the forces of 
his enemies before they could form a single army, and 
inflicted on them a crushing defeat. In spite of this 
the Baglers managed to prolong the struggle. It ended, 
however, as far as Sverre was concerned, in the capture 
of T0nsberg, where the Baglers, under Eeidar (the man 
whom Sverre had permitted to enlist followers in 1196), 
held out for a long time, and only surrendered in January, 

The end of the heroic king was now fast approaching. 
"Worn out by the terrible hardships which he had endured, 
first in his struggle for the crown with Magnus, and after- 
wards in the contest against the Baglers, he was in very bad 
health when the town of T0nsberg fell. He went thence to 
Bergen, and with a brave heart set himself to prepare for 
death. Calling his men together he told them that he left 
no son behind him save Haakon, his other son, Sigurd, 
having died in the year 1200. 

When the end drew near, and he felt his strength fast 
failing, he sent for the priests who remained faithful to him 
in Bergen (in spite of interdict and excommunication) to 
administer the last sacraments of the Church. 

Then he had himself placed in his high seat and awaited 
their coming. " If I die here," he said, " in my high seat, 
surrounded by my friends, it will be different from what 
Bishop Nicholas expected, when he said that I should be 
hewn down for the dogs and the ravens. Praised be God, He 
has saved me in many dangers from the weapons of my 
enemies." Then, " houseled and aneled," he awaited the 
coming of the great conqueror. As his men stood around 
him, he bade them, when he was dead, to let his face 
be uncovered, so that his people might see that the excom- 
munication had done him no harm, as his enemies had 


maintained. Then, before his departing, he summed up the 
experience of his troubled reign : 

" I have had more trouble and sorrow in my reign than 
peace and pleasure. I believe I have had many envious 
men who have let me feel their hatred. May God forgive 
them for all of it. Now may the Lord judge between me 
and them, and vindicate my cause." 

Thus, on Saturday, the 9th of March, 1202, "passed the 
strong heroic soul away," in the fifty-second year of his life. 
His dying wishes were respected, and the people looked, for 
the last time, on the face of their dead leader, and saw that 
no change, but the last and great one had come to him. No 
difficulty seems to have been found as to his burial. He 
was laid to rest in a niche in the wall between the choir and 
the south door of Christ Church Cathedral in Bergen, and 
on a copper plate hung upon the wall was inscribed in letters 
of gold these words: "Here rests the man who was the glory 
of kings, the defender of his native land, and the joy and 
pride of his men." 

Friends and foes alike lamented him, and said, truly, 
" such a man Norway had never before seen." 

Sverre Sigurdss0n is perhaps the most striking figure in 
the history of Norway. In estimating his character we 
must not forget that all the evil which could be said of him, 
was remorselessly dragged to light by his inveterate enemies, 
who represented him as almost a monster in human form, 
while many of the other great men, especially in the early 
days of the Church in Norway, had the record of their lives 
set forth by writers who were to their failings not a little 
kind, and who softened down their worst actions. But we 
fortunately possess as well a record of his life in the Sverre's 
Saga (written by Karl Jonss0n, and probably Styrme, a 
priest, of Iceland), which sets him forth in another and 
more favourable light, and we have reason to believe with 
truth. Had he lived at another time, and been given the 


opportunities, which he undoubtedly wished for, of healing 
the wounds which the long period of civil war had inflicted 
upon Norway, he would have received a unanimous tribute 
as to his great genius as an organizer and ruler, as well as 
a warrior. To him, however, fell the task of being the 
champion of the cause of liberty, against the overwhelming 
and unlawful claims of the Roman see, and of upholding 
the authority and independence of Norway against foreign 
ecclesiastical tyranny. His struggle against the right of 
the pontiff to depose a national king was one of the same 
kind as was waged later on in other countries of Europe, 
and the feeling of indignation which filled his followers, at 
the attempt of Innocent III. to deprive their king of his 
power, was akin to that which stirred the barons of England 
to resist the claims of the same pontiff not many years 

Sverre was no enemy of the Church in Norway. His 
antagonism was against those who sought to overturn the 
settlement of both Church and State, as it had been arranged 
in the days of his great predecessor Olaf, the king and 
saint. He represented the spirit of antagonism among the 
Teutonic races to the encroachments and aggressions of the 
papal authority, which manifested itself in England in a long 
series of legislative enactments, calculated to check the 
usurpations of the Roman see. Had he been allowed, he 
would have lived and worked harmoniously with the 
bishops. Even his first antagonist, the great Archbishop 
Eystein, found that after all Sverre was not such a tyrant 
as he had imagined, and he was able to spend his last days 
in peace with the king, and Eystein was, in all respects, a 
greater man than his successor Erik. 

Far from being tyrannical and overbearing, Sverre seems 
to have erred on the side of moderation, and a desire to 
yield to the wishes of the bishops. He was a shrewd judge 
of men, and had he chosen to insist on what he believed to 


be the right of the Crown (a right universally exercised by 
all his predecessors, except Magnus Erlingss0n) and refused 
to assent to the appointments, first of Erik to Nidaros and 
afterwards Nicholas to Stavanger, all the troubles that 
followed might have been averted. In those two instances 
Sverre gave way against his own better judgment, for 
which he suffered severely afterwards. 

With all his skill in war and the desperate battles in 
which he so often engaged, Sverre was a man of great 
kindness of heart, and never (except perhaps on one 
occasion, and under very great provocation) exercised 
vengeance on his enemies, which was everywhere looked 
upon as the most natural thing to do in his day. His 
private life was no more free from blame than that of the 
sainted Olaf, but he was certainly no worse than many who 
died in the odour of sanctity, and in the full enjoyment of 
papal favour and love. His men, the far-famed Birkebeiner, 
followed him with the most intense devotion, and he was 
truly, as his epitaph said, "their joy and pride." His 
genius transformed a band of wild outlaws into a highly- 
trained and strictly-disciplined body of men, and made their 
name, once a term of contempt and derision, one coveted 
and esteemed by brave men. 

We are often tempted to speculate what would have been 
Sverre's life, had he not given up the service of the Altar for 
the Throne. Would he have risen from the obscurity of the 
storm-beaten islands of the northern seas to a position of 
great power and authority in the Church \ A man of his 
genius would most likely have come to the front in those 
days, when many of the greatest prelates, like Nicholas 
Breakspeare, often rose step by step until they gained the 
very highest places in the service of the Church. His life 
might have been a happier one, and he might not have 
aroused so much hostility as fell to the lot of the king of 
Norway. But it is Sverre the king, not Sverre the cardinal 


or pope, with whom we have had to deal, and that kingship 
brought to him, in his own sad words, " more trouble and 
sorrow than peace and pleasure " ; and he passed away at 
any rate comforted with the feeling that he had won the 
love of his followers, and was to his last day "the defender 
of his native land." 



The Truce with the Church Erik Returns Haakon Dies Suddenly 
Internal Struggles Inge Baardss0n Haakon Haakonss0n cared 
for by the Birkebeiner Proclaimed King End of the Struggle 
between the Birkebeiner and Baglers Death of Bishop Nicholas of 
Oslo Duke Skule Killed Cardinal William of Sabina Crowns 
Haakon The Cardinal's Mission Haakon's Legislation Union 
with Iceland New Law of Succession Death of Haakon 
Papal Letters during his Reign. 

AT the time of Sverre's death, his only surviving, but 
illegitimate son Haakon was at Nidaros. Tidings of the 
event were conveyed in great haste to him, and he was at 
once proclaimed king, and soon after formally accepted by 
the Thing. Sverre's other son, Sigurd, who died in 1200, 
had left a son, who, however, was only an infant, and no 
claim on his behalf was then advanced. Haakon was at 
this time a young man of great promise, and well beloved 
by all the Birkebeiner party ; he was an excellent speaker, 
and of most kindly and generous disposition. In person he 
was of commanding height, and his skill in war had been 
abundantly proved in the many conflicts in which he had 
taken part. Like his father, he was a man of education far 
beyond the average of the kings of his time, and a transla- 
tion from the Latin ascribed to him still survives.^ 

Sverre before his death had written to Haakon with 

* This was the " Barlaam's and Josafat's Saga," a religious romance, 
originally written in Greek about the eighth century (traditionally by 
John of Damascus) and afterwards translated into Latin. The Norse 
version is ascribed also to Haakon the Younger, a son of Haakon 
Haakonss0n, who died in 1257. 


reference to the quarrel with the bishops, and urged his son 
to make peace with them. Accordingly the first step of 
Haakon, after his succession, was to recall the fugitive 
bishops, who gladly availed themselves of the offer of 
peace, and by the summer of 1202, Erik and the others 
returned to their sees. 

It now seemed as if an era of peace and tranquillity was 
about to dawn once more on the land, for both parties were 
exhausted by the prolonged conflict and anxious for a 
settlement. When the prelates had come back, the king 
issued a letter " to the archbishop, bishops, clergy, and 
b0nder," in which he expressed his willingness to grant to 
the Church all its rights and privileges ; but with this 
important reservation added : " My kingdom and my 
full royal rights unimpaired, in agreement with the arrange- 
ment made by Cardinal Nicholas, and agreed to by the 
three kings, Ey stein, Sigurd, and Inge, and which King 
Eystein's letter witnesses, and King Magnus confirmed, as 
also my father by his letter . . . whilst the Church and all 
the clergy agree to pay to me that homage and honour they 
are bound to offer to their lawful king." It will be seen by 
this that the peace between the king and the Church, was 
after all merely an armistice, and that all the critical points 
in the dispute were practically passed over by a kind of 
tacit agreement. In other words, both parties were content 
to let matters stand "as in 1152," and we know that 
Sverre regarded the burning question of the right of the 
appointment of the bishops by the Crown, as unimpaired 
by Cardinal Nicholas's arrangement, when there was only 
one king in the land. The archbishop now took off the 
excommunication on Sverre's adherents, and removed any 
of the restrictions which had followed the Interdict, and all 
parties in Norway were for the time satisfied. 

Not so Innocent III. When information reached him of 
the death of Sverre, and of the events which we have just 


mentioned, he was extremely angry, though he does not 
seem to have taken any official notice until January, 1204, 
when he wrote a very sharp and scathing letter to Archbishop 
Erik. He began, indeed, by rejoicing that peace had come 
once more to the land after the death of Sverre. Then he 
reminded the archbishop that he had dared to take too much 
upon him, by releasing from the ban those whom he had 
excommunicated, and compares the archbishop to an ape 
that imitates the actions of men, and finally ordered him 
to send some one to Kome to explain his conduct. 

By the time this letter reached Norway, however, the 
condition of affairs was changed, for on January 1st, 1204, 
Haakon died suddenly in Bergen (said to have been poisoned 
by Sverre's widow, Margreta), and the hopes which were 
cherished for peace and prosperity under the wise and 
prudent rule of Haakon, were dashed to the ground. 

The events of the immediately following years need not 
closely concern us, but it is necessary to state them as 
briefly as possible. 

During the short reign of Haakon the remains of the 
Bagler party had tried to carry on the strife, chiefly in the 
Oplands, but they were defeated and their chief, Inge, 
killed in the close of 1202. 

Haakon left no legitimate heir, and his illegitimate son 
(afterwards the famous King Haakon Haakonss0n) was not 
then born. There was therefore no direct heir in the male 
line, except the little four-year-old son of Haakon's brother, 
Sigurd Guttorm Sigurdss0n, and he was proclaimed king in 
Bergen immediately after his uncle's death, and Haakon 
Galin, the son of Cecilia (King Sverre's sister) by her first 
marriage was named as regent. 

There was, however, another person who, through his 
mother, might have a claim to the throne, and this was Inge 
Baardss0n, son of Cecilia by her second marriage. The 
little Guttorm lived only a few months, and died in Nidaros 


(by poison it was supposed) in the summer of 1204, and 
then Inge Baardss0n was, with the archbishop's approval, 
accepted as king. At this time he was only sixteen years 
of age. 

Now the Baglers started again in the south, and secured 
a new chief, Erling Steinvseg, whom they announced to be 
a son of Magnus Erlingss0n. They very nearly succeeded 
in capturing King Inge at Nidaros, while he was engaged 
in celebrating his sister's wedding, but he managed to 

The struggle with the Baglers went on with varying 
fortune for some years longer. Their chief died in 1207, 
and then Bishop Nicholas got them to accept his nephew 
Filippus as their leader, and entered into negotiations with 
the young king and Haakon Galin, which resulted in his 
nephew being granted the kingship over Viken and part of 
the Oplands, and in 1209 he married Kristine, the daughter 
of King Sverre, and there was peace for a time. 

Archbishop Erik, whose blindness unfitted him for the 
duties of his office, resigned his see in 1205, and Thore, a 
member of the Oslo chapter, was chosen as his successor 
and went to Eome, where he was consecrated and received 
the pallium. In 1207 he returned again to Norway. 
Archbishop Erik had held the see of Nidaros for six- 
teen years, ten of which he lived in exile in Denmark. 
Thore, his successor, was, in spite of his connection with 
the see of Oslo, a man well disposed for peace, and did 
much to help to bring about a better state of feeling 
between the parties. 

King Inge had always a dangerous rival in Haakon 
Galin, who claimed a share of the kingdom by right of his 
mother and being Inge's half-brother. To avoid war the 
king made (through the mediation of Archbishop Thore 
and Erik, who still lived) an agreement in 1213 to share 
the royal dignity with his half-brother, providing that 


whichever of them survived should have the other's share, 
and then, after their death, the legitimate son of either of 
them. This was intended to secure the succession to 
Haakon's family, as Inge had no legitimate heir, and also 
to exclude the one who, according to the old law, had a 
better right to the crown than either Inge or Haakon 
namely, Haakon Haakonss0n, the illegitimate son of Haakon, 
the son of Sverre. 

Haakon Haakonss0n was the son of Haakon Sverress0n 
and a woman named Inga, who lived near Sarpsborg ; he 
was not born until after his father's death, and the fact of 
his birth was for some time kept a secret. Some of the 
Birkebeiner, however, learned it, and decided that it would 
be safer for Sverre's grandson to be out of the reach of 
Bishop Nicholas and his nephew Filippus. Taking the 
little child with them, two faithful Birkebeiner carried him 
in their arms in the winter of 1205 to Nidaros, where he 
was kindly received by Inge and allowed to remain in 
peace. The old Birkebeiner warriors loved the little boy, 
and watched over him with the greatest care. 

Haakon Galin only lived a year after the compact with 
Inge, who was himself in bad health and depended much 
upon his half-brother, Skule Baardss0n,^ whom he made a 
jarl, and who now cherished plans for making himself king 
after Inge. The old Birkebeiner were determined, if the 
king should die, that young Haakon should succeed him, 
and, being suspicious of danger, kept a careful watch over 
the lad. 

Archbishop Thore died in 1214, after having held the 
see for seven years. He was largely instrumental in carry- 
ing out the negotiations between the contending parties in 
Norway, and always carefully looked after the interests 
and claims of the Church. During his episcopate the 

* Skule was the son of Baard, Inge's father, by his second marriage 
after Cecilia's death. 


Cistercian monastery at Tautra, on the Trondhjem Fjord, 
was founded, probably in 1207. Thore was succeeded by 
a priest named Guttorm, who was consecrated by the pope 
in 1215. The year after Bishop Martin, of Bergen, 
Sverre's old chaplain, died, and Haavard was unanimously 
chosen as his successor. On his election the new archbishop 
raised a question about his consecration. Haavard was the 
son of a priest, and the archbishop declined to consecrate 
him (on the ground of his being therefore illegitimate) with- 
out a dispensation from the pope. Application was made 
to Innocent for this, but he died in July, 1216, before the 
matter was considered ; his successor, however, Honorius 
III., granted the dispensation, and Haavard was consecrated 
by Guttorm. This was the first case of the kind in 

On April 22nd, 1217, King Inge, who had been ill for 
some time, died at Nidaros. The Birkebeiner at once pro- 
claimed young Haakon as king, and this was approved at 
the Thing. Skule Baardss0n did not dare to oppose this, and 
had to be content with his jarldom and the regency of the 
kingdom. Soon after the king and Skule went to Bergen, 
and in spite of some efforts to stir up opposition to Haakon 
in that part of the country, he was well received by both 
clergy and people, and at a Gula Thing was accepted as 
king. The Bagler king in Viken, Filippus, died in the 
same year as Inge, and the rule of Haakon was extended 
to that part of the country as well. 

When Haakon returned to Nidaros in 1218, after having 
been to Viken, Archbishop Guttorm received him with great 
coldness, not to say rudeness, while he treated Skule with 
marked respect. When called to account for this, he 
stated that there was yet lacking some sufficient proof of 
Haakon's parentage. In order that this matter might be 
set at rest, a Rigsm0de, or meeting of all the chief men of 
the kingdom, was called to meet at Bergen in the summer 


of the same year. At this, all the bishops, chiefs, and 
representatives of the b0nder were present. It was first 
proposed that King Haakon should follow the example of 
Harald Grille and others, and submit to the trial by ordeal ; 
but this was strongly objected to by Haakon's faithful 
Birkebeiner, and one of them, named Dagfinn, said that if it 
was to be a trial by iron it would be by cold iron (swords), 
which they would use against the king's enemies. Finally 
it was agreed that Inga, the king's mother, should undergo 
the trial by ordea], to prove that Haakon was really the 
son of King Haakon Sverress0n, and this she did successfully 
at St. Peter's Church, in Nidaros, and all doubt was thus set 
at rest. This was the last occasion in which this method 
of trial was used in the matter of royal claims, and soon 
afterwards trial by ordeal was for all cases stopped by 

Then, as Haakon's royal birth was undoubted, a sentence 
of excommunication was pronounced against all who in 
future questioned it. 

The Baglers, however, still gave trouble under a new 
leader named Bene ; but the people in Viken had had enough 
of them, and called in the king and the Birkebeiner to help 
them, and defeated the Baglers. After this the old chiefs 
of the Baglers in Viken finally made peace and swore 
allegiance to King Haakon, and thus formally ended the 
great struggle between Baglers and Birkebeiner, which for 
twenty years had devastated Norway and done an almost 
irreparable amount of injury to the land. 

Jarl Skule did not cease to cherish his ambitious designs 
of supplanting Haakon, and various different risings took 
place from time to time, in which both he and the wily 
Bishop Nicholas, who hated all of Sverre's family, 
undoubtedly had a share. 

Efforts were made to avert the growing hostility between 
the jarl and the king by an arrangement by which the 


latter should be betrothed to the jarl's daughter Margreta, 
then only a child, but even the prospect of having 
the king for a son-in-law, did not stop the intrigues of 

There were a number of persons who claimed to have a 
right to, at any rate a share in, the kingdom at that time, 
and it was decided to hold another Rigsm0de in Bergen in 
the summer of 1223. When this met, Archbishop Guttorm 
who presided, went in detail through the claims of the 
different candidates the jarl Skule, who claimed as 
Inge's half brother; Guttorm, Inge's illegitimate son; 
Sigurd Kibbung, who professed to be a son of Magnus 
Erlingss0n ; and Knut, who was son of Haakon Galin. The 
meeting, however, decided with practical unanimity in favour 
of Haakon, who was acknowledged as the rightful king, 
and Skule Jarl was allowed to govern the third part of the 

This was about the last public act of Archbishop Gut- 
torm, who died the next year, 1224. The chapter chose 
as his successor Sigurd of Tautra, who was absent from the 
country at the time ; but the king was in favour of another 
candidate named Peter, and sent him to the pope, who 
accepted him, and after consecrating him and investing 
him with the pallium, sent him back to Norway in 1225. 

The same year another rebellion (again incited by the 
indefatigable plotter Bishop Nicholas) broke out under 
Sigurd, one of the claimants mentioned above, but this 
was soon put down. 

The long life of the remarkable Bishop Nicholas of Oslo 
was now drawing to a close ; and he seems to have suffered 
some qualms of conscience for the way in which he had 
acted towards Sverre and his descendants, to almost all of 
whom he had at one time or another sworn allegiance, and 
whom notwithstanding, he had opposed in every way, both 
openly and in secret. Haakon had now undoubted proofs 


of Nicholas's complicity in the late rising, and intended to 
bring it home to him. But the bishop was now a dying 
man, and desired before he left the world, to make tardy 
amends for his life-long disloyalty. He sent a messenger to 
Haakon desiring to see him. When the king came, he first 
reproached the bishop for what he had done, but then the 
dying man confessed his share in the various rebellions and 
asked the forgiveness of Haakon. This the king fully and 
freely granted, and, remaining with the bishop until his 
death, afterwards gave him a splendid burial. Thus in 
1225, in the seventieth year of his age, and the thirty-fifth 
of his episcopate, Nicholas Arness0n passed away. There 
is no doubt that Sverre's estimate of his character was a 
correct one; smooth-tongued, cowardly and treacherous, he 
always was to Sverre and his descendants, and though 
doubtless he had, what he believed to be, the interests of 
the Church at heart, yet he was the chief cause of all the 
troubles which had come upon the country, during the 
thirty-five years of his tenure of the see of Oslo. Very 
shrewd he was in all his actions, and Haakon was right 
when he declared that " he never had his equal in worldly 
wisdom." We might well wish that, as a bishop of the 
Church, he had merited a better epitaph. 

With the death of Bishop Nicholas the spirit of rebellion 
did not, however, cease. Sigurd Ribbung died, but 
Knut took his place, until he was vanquished by Haakon 
and swore allegiance to him, an oath which, in spite of 
subsequent temptations to the contrary, he faithfully 

Archbishop Peter only lived after his consecration for 
two years, dying in 1226, and was succeeded by Thore, 
who after a brief episcopate died in 1230. The next 
archbishop was Sigurd Eindridess0n, who was the son of 
one of Sverre's Birkebeiner, and was, it might be suppobed, 
naturally inclined to the king's party ; but we shall, later 

C.S.N. o 


on, find him in a somewhat different position during his 
long episcopate. 

It was now becoming clear that, sooner or later, an open 
rupture between the king and the great Jarl Skule must 
come about. The archbishop and others averted it several 
times, and the king strove to keep peace with his father- 
in-law, for his marriage with Margreta had been duly 
solemnized, and Skule was created a duke, the first who 
bore that title in Norway. 

In 1239 the long-expected outbreak took place. Skule 
was in Nidaros and the king in Bergen. The former called 
a Thing and carried to it by force the sacred relics of the 
cathedral, including the body of St. Olaf, and was there by 
his adherents proclaimed king. But he failed to surprise 
Haakon in Bergen as he had intended. The struggle 
took place in the south. Skule first defeated the king's 
party in a battle, but was afterwards himself defeated at 
Oslo. Then he fled to Nidaros, pursued by the Birkebeiner. 
He first hid near the town, and then sought refuge in 
Elgesseter monastery. This the Birkebeiner set on fire, and 
Skule and his followers rushed out, but were to a man cut 
down by the king's men. Thus fell, on May 23rd, 1240, 
in his fifty- first year, the great chief Skule Baardss0n, and 
now Haakon was left in undisputed possession of his 
kingdom. He had just before the final rupture with Skule 
taken the precaution to have his son, by his marriage with 
Margreta, accepted as a king by the Thing in Nidaros and 
afterwards in Bergen, though he had also an older, but 
illegitimate son named Sigurd. Haakon's idea was to 
secure the succession of his legitimate son, who alone, 
according to the bishop's theory, should have a right to 
the throne. 

Haakon Haakonss0n, having now delivered himself and 
his kingdom from all rivals and claimants to the throne, 
desired to carry out his wish of being formally crowned by 


the archbishop, as his immediate predecessor had been. He 
therefore approached the primate, and he referred the 
matter to the pope (Gregory IX.), who appointed a com- 
mission to investigate the king's claim. Nothing, however, 
was done at the time, or in the short reign of Gregory's 
successor, Celestine IV., and in 1243 the famous Innocent IV. 
became pope. 

Haakon, who was in favour with Innocent, felt that this 
was the best time to give effect to his wishes. In 1245 he 
summoned a meeting of the archbishop and bishops to meet 
in Bergen, and there brought before them the subject of his 
coronation. The archbishop and the others expressed them- 
selves quite willing to anoint and crown the king, but they 
demanded in return for this that Haakon should be ready 
to grant the same terms as Magnus Erlingss0n in 1164. 
They found, however, that they had to deal with a very 
different stamp of man from Erling Skakke's son. To the 
demands of the bishops the king replied : " The kings have 
already granted you such great rights that it would be 
difficult to add to them, and, besides, you have exceeded all 
lawful bounds. If I swore such an oath as King Magnus 
swore, it seems to me that my glory would be diminished 
and not increased, for Magnus did not mind what he did 
to gain that to which he had no right. By God's help I 
hope never to be obliged to accept or to buy from you, that 
to which God has chosen me after my father and my fore- 
fathers, and be sure that by God's grace I shall win my 
crown so freely and unconditionally that I can wear it as 
securely as other famous kings, or it shall never come upon 
my head." 

These words, in which we have an echo of his grand- 
father's famous Apology, showed the prelates that they must 
not endeavour to push their claims too far with Haakon. 
After this the king broke off the negotiations with the 
bishops, but did not abandon his design. He took the 


bolder and, as it proved, the wiser plan of addressing him- 
self directly to Innocent IV. Accordingly he dispatched 
Laurentius, abbot of Hoved0, and Bjarne, one of the chapter 
of Nidaros, with a letter to Innocent begging him to send 
a cardinal legate to Norway to crown him/* 

Haakon could not possiby have selected a more pro- 
pitious time for approaching the pope. The pontiff was, as 
we know, at that very time in the midst of his great quarrel 
with Kaiser Frederick II., and had been obliged to flee from 
Kome and take refuge in Lyons. Innocent saw the import- 
ance of enlisting on his side as many as possible of the 
kings of Europe, and as Haakon had now become powerful 
and was likely to be useful in the struggle, he listened 
most willingly to his request. 

In October, 1246, he wrote to Haakon from Lyons 
saying that he would grant his request and send to him 
William, cardinal bishop of Sabina, as legate in order to crown 
the king, and in the next month he dispatched another letter 
in which he dispensed his want of legitimacy, so that it 
should be no bar to his royal title. 

Innocent IV. had in view, not merely the securing of an 
adherent in Haakon, but intended that the legate should 
make an investigation into the state of the Church both in 

* Matthew Paris supplies us with some interesting details as to this 
embassy. He is an authority of great importance in matters relating 
to Haakon, as he was a personal friend of the king, and had been in 
Norway himself. From Matthew's chronicle it would appear that 
Haakon, in order to secure his coronation, had to give in advance a 
very large sum of money to Innocent to induce him to send Cardinal 
William of Sabina to Norway. Considering the pope's position at that 
time this statement seems extremely probable. One of the king's 
ambassadors, Laurentius, the abbot of Hoved0, was, as Matthew tells 
us, an Englishman by birth and a professed Cistercian. He (Haakon) 
received consecration and legitimation from Innocent IV., "having 
given to the same pope 30,000 marks of silver by the hand of Master 
Laurence, afterwards abbot of Kirkstead in Lindesey." Matt. Paris, 
Vol. V., page 222 (Rolls series). 


Norway and Sweden. He chose a very suitable man for 
his purpose, just as Eugenius III. had in 1152, for Cardinal 
William of Sabina had been a legate in Prussia and had 
visited Gotland, and thus had come in contact with many 
Scandinavians, though he had never been in Norway itself. 

Haakon had now gained his point, and had indirectly 
won a victory over the bishops of Norway. He called 
together a great meeting of all the bishops, chiefs, and 
people in Bergen, in the summer of 1247 to receive the 

We learn from Matthew Paris that William of Sabina 
passed through England on his journey as legate to the 
North. He landed at Dover, and obtaining permission 
from Henry III. to visit the country, greeted that monarch 
and received substantial presents from him. The cardinal 
remained at King's Lynn for three months, and during his 
stay there "he could not restrain his innate Koman 
cupidity," and succeeded in extracting about 4,000 marks 
from the clergy in that neighbourhood, and "often preached 
to the people under pretence of piety." Lynn was a usual 
port of departure for Norway, and here he had a ship well 
filled with corn and wine, " where, as we read in the case 
of Noah's ark, there were passages and decks one above 
another, chambers and dining-rooms. In this manner, 
therefore, having become rich, he committed himself to the 
North Sea with a fair wind blowing, after bestowing his 
blessing on England and the prodigal English." 

The cardinal arrived in Bergen on June 17th, and was 
received with great honour by the king. The bishops, 
however, were determined to make one more effort. They 
did their best in several interviews to inflame the legate 
against Haakon, and seemed to have got him over to 
their side. The cardinal then suggested to the king that it 
might be well to agree to Magnus Erlingss0n's oath. 
Haakon, however, boldly told him that he knew very well 


where that suggestion came from, and added, " I will have 
no crown if it costs me my freedom." The prudent legate 
saw he had gone too far, and at once withdrew his 
suggestion. Great preparations were now made for the 
coronation, which was fixed for St. Olaf s day. Archbishop 
Sigurd and five of his suffragans, the bishops of Bergen, 
Stavanger, Oslo, Hamar, and Hole (Iceland), the principal 
abbots, and all the great chiefs of Norway were then in the 
city. The coronation procession to Christ Church Cathedral 
was one of great magnificence. Following the high officials 
came four lendermcend, bearing aloft the coronation robes, 
after them were borne two silver sceptres, one with a golden 
cross on it and another with an eagle. Next came the 
king's son, Haakon, carrying the crown, and Jarl Knut 
with the coronation sword, and last of all Archbishop 
Sigurd and King Haakon, with two bishops as his supporters. 
At the palace door the procession was joined by clergy 
intoning, "Ecce mitto angelum meum," and thus they went 
to the cathedral, where they were met at the door by the 
cardinal and two bishops, who conducted the king to the 
altar. During the Mass the king was crowned with the 
usual solemnities. 

The coronation banquet was held in the king's boat- 
house, there being no other building large enough to receive 
the great company. After the feast the cardinal made a 
speech, in which he said : " Now is your king crowned and 
honoured as no king before him in Norway ; God be praised 
that I did not turn back, as I was urged to do, as I was 
told that I would not see many people, and if I did, 
they would be more like wild beasts than men in 
their conduct, but now I see a great company of people all 
well conducted and many foreigners, and such a multitude 
of ships as I have never before seen in one harbour. " 

After the coronation was over the cardinal did not forget 
the other part of his mission an inquiry into the state of 


the Church in Norway. Lengthy conferences were held in 
Bergen with the king and the bishops, and various abuses 
were dealt with, and complaints on the part of the people 
listened to. 

It was found that the bishops had been accustomed to 
appropriate the income of parishes during a vacancy, and 
this practice was sternly forbidden, as it naturally gave an 
opening for abuses and might delay the appointment to the 
parish. It was ordered that when a parish was vacant 
some one was at once to be appointed to hold the revenue 
during the vacancy, and to hand it over, with a proper 
account, to the newly-appointed priest, and specially to 
guard the one-fourth part of the tithe which belonged to 
the parish church. 

The parish priests complained about the enforced hospi- 
tality which they had to offer to the bishop's officials when 
he did not come himself on a visitation. This was forbidden, 
except when illness or the king's business prevented the 
bishop coming. The b0nder complained about the fines 
which were levied on them for fishing and haymaking upon 
holy days, and asked for some relief. The cardinal recog- 
nized the justice of the claim to make hay while the sun 
shone, and also to secure the herrings, " sent by God," when 
they approached the shores, and granted this request.^ 

Another important matter which was decided at this 
time was the entire abolition of the trial by ordeal, which 
had been, not long before, used to decide the question of 
the king's parentage. 

So ended this most memorable mission of William of 
Sabina, one as important in its way as that of Nicholas 
Breakspeare in 1152. 

The cardinal during his stay in Norway contrived to 
enrich himself considerably at the expense of Church 

* Archbishop Eystein had obtained from the pope a similar con- 
cession for Tr0ndelagen in his time, see page 161. 


and king, as he had previously done in England. For the 
pope he is said to have received a sum of 15,000 marks of 
silver a welcome contribution to the papal war chest at the 
time of the great conflict with the kaiser. For himself he 
got from Haakon 1,500 marks, and 500 marks from the 
Norwegian Church, in addition to innumerable smaller 

On his way from Norway the cardinal called at Stavanger, 
T0nsberg, Oslo, and Konghelle, from whence he passed into 
Sweden. The legate's view of the state of the Church in 
Norway is contained in a letter of August, 1247, at the 
close of his mission. In this he mentions that he found it 
in full peaceable and quiet possession of the right of 
judging in all ecclesiastical matters between all persons 
whomsoever, and over all the clergy, in questions both 
spiritual and temporal, or with regard to any breach of 
contract. He also found the Norwegian Church exercised 
free and unfettered rights of patronage over all churches. 

The election of the bishops was also free from the inter- 
ference of the laity. * 

How far the legate was strictly correct in his statement 
seems open to doubt. The Kristenret certainly did not 
then recognize the immunity of the clergy from secular 
tribunals, nor had the king abandoned his right to have a 
voice in the choice of the bishops. It seems likely that 
the cardinal's letter embodied what the Church wished for, 
and claimed, more than what it actually possessed at the 

William of Sabina was for a considerable time engaged 
in the affairs of the Church in Sweden, and did not return 
to the papal court at Lyons until 1251, where he died 
suddenly in the same year. Haakon was now in a position 
of great power and influence, and was an especial favourite 

* The cardinal's letter will be found in the Norges Oamle Love, 
Yol. I., page 450. 


of the pope. Some time before his coronation he had been 
urged to join in a crusade, and though he had promised to 
do so, and afterwards (1248) Louis IX. of France had 
urged him to join in the unfortunate venture in which he 
was taken prisoner, yet Haakon never fulfilled his promise. 
As a substitute for a crusade against the Saracens, the 
pope permitted and approved of one against Haakon's 
heathen neighbours in the north of Norway the Finns. 
Haakon, however, did better than carrying fire and sword 
amongst them. He made efforts to spread Christianity in 
those regions in a more legitimate way, and to his zeal was 
due the foundation of churches in Troms0 and in Ofoten ; 
the former was for a long time the most northern Christian 
church in the world. He also received a tribe of Finns 
from Eussia, whom the Tartars had driven out, and allowed 
them to settle in Malangen, where he had them baptized. 

The remaining years of the long reign of Haakon were not 
marked by any very important ecclesiastical events, though 
there are several points of interest in the dealings between 
the king and the Church, some of which were in progress 
before the time of the mission of Cardinal William of 

Later writers and legislative enactments frequently refer 
to the Kristenret " of King Haakon Haakonss0n, and 
Archbishop Sigurd." It would seem that this was not a 
new enactment, but rather a rearrangement and adaptation 
of the older laws, to bring them into conformity with the 
alterations agreed upon in the relations of the Church and 
the State. There were, as we have seen, a number of laws 
relating to matters ecclesiastical dating from the time of 
St. Olaf downwards, and the last was the collection known 
as the " Golden Feather " of Archbishop Eystein. Haakon 
and the archbishop revised and enlarged these, and they 
were accepted as a part of the Frosta Thing's law. The 
exact date of this work is uncertain, but its approximate 


date can be ascertained by the fact that trial by ordeal was 
still recognized, and we therefore may conclude with 
certainty that it was prior to 1247, when that method was 
abolished at the time of William of Sabina's mission. 

Another important event, both ecclesiastical and civil, 
which marked the reign of Haakon was the practical union 
of Norway and Iceland. That remarkable island had, from 
the time of its first colonization, from Norway, in the days 
of Harald Haarfagre, maintained a sturdy independence of 
the rule of the Norwegian kings, though there was a very 
close connection between it and the mother country, and the 
Church there, with the two dioceses of Skaalholt and Hole, 
formed a part of the province of Nidaros, together with the 
more distant Greenland. 

One of the most famous bishops was Thorlak Thorhallss0n. 
This man was born in 1133 and ordained priest in 1152, 
and spent several years in studying abroad first at Paris 
and afterwards, from 1158 to 1160, at Lincoln, then famous 
as a school of learning in theology and canon law. In 1178 
he was consecrated at Nidaros as bishop of Skaalholt. He 
was the great ecclesiastical legislator of Iceland, and com- 
piled a Kristenret for that country. After his death in 1 1 93 
he was reverenced as a saint by the Icelanders, but was 
never canonized at Rome. The unhappy state of affairs in 
Norway during the civil wars reacted upon Iceland, and the 
island was in a disturbed state. During the reign of 
Haakon lived the famous Snorre Sturlass0n, the writer of 
the great " Heimskringla " (a history of the Norwegian race 
from the earliest times down to the battle of Re, at T0nsberg 
in 1177), which derived its name from the first word in 
the book, which means the world's circle. He became by 
degrees a very wealthy man, and had large possessions in 
the island. During a visit to Norway, early in Haakon's 
reign, he promised to use his influence to bring the 
Icelanders to accept the overlordship of Haakon, but 


on his return there in 1220 he did nothing to fulfil his 

In the conflict between Haakon and Skule, Snorre seems 
to have sided with the latter, and Haakon, after the death 
of Skule, determined to punish him. He sent orders to 
Snorre's enemy, Gissur Thorvaldss0n, to arrest or kill the 
historian, and Gissur attacked and killed Snorre in his 
home at Reykjaholt in 1241. 

The king and Sigurd felt that it would conduce to the 
securing of the supremacy of the island, if they were able to 
bring the Icelandic bishops into more direct obedience to 
the see of Nidaros, and not leave them in the position 
which the bishops of Norway occupied during the Bremen 

An opportunity occurred in 1237, when it happened that 
both of the Icelandic bishoprics were vacant that of 
Skaalholt by the death of Magnus Gissurss0n, who was the 
last married bishop in Iceland. 

To the vacancies were nominated two priests named 
Magnus and Bj0rn, and they came to Nidaros to be con- 
secrated by Sigurd. The archbishop, however, on the 
ground of their election being invalid, refused to do so, and 
applied to Pope Gregory IX., who in August, 1237, 
ordered him to suspend both of the bishops-elect. Bj0rn 
went to Rome to plead his cause, but died on the way back ; 
and Magnus went back to Iceland, where he was afterwards 
drowned. Then the archbishop decided to fill up the 
vacancies himself, and consecrated two Norwegians, Sigurd 
of Selje to Skaalholt, and Botolf of Elgesseter to Hole, and 
sent them to Iceland, where they were accepted. Still 
Iceland remained independent, but a gradual movement 
towards acknowledging the authority of the Norwegian 
king went on. William of Sabina is said to have strongly 
urged the Icelanders to submit to Haakon. Finally, in 
1256, a part of Iceland agreed to pay skat to Haakon, and 


in 1262 the remainder of the island acknowledged Haakon's 
sovereignty. The country, however, still retained its own 
self-government and laws. In 1262 Greenland came also 
under the supremacy of Norway. 

Archbishop Sigurd, who had occupied such a prominent 
place in the history of his time, died in 1252, and was suc- 
ceeded by S0rle of Hamar, who only lived a year after his 
consecration and died in 1254, and was followed by 
Einar Gunnarss0n, a member of a well-known family in 

The new archbishop urged upon the king the great 
importance of making provision for the succession of his 
two sons during his lifetime, so as to avoid disputes, but the 
king would not take any definite step. In 1257 the king's 
eldest son, Haakon, died, and one difficulty respecting the 
succession was removed. The question, however, was not 
allowed to drop, for experience showed how dangerous 
to the peace of the country was a doubtful law of succes- 
sion, as the older one of the days of St. Olaf, and the more 
recent one which the bishops and Archbishop Eystein in the 
time of Magnus Erlingss0n and his father, Erling Skakke, 
were not in agreement. The latter, which we have at 
the commencement of the older Gula Thing's law, decreed 
that he should be king of Norway who was the legitimate 
son of the king of Norway, except in cases of imbecility or 
vicious living, when the archbishop, bishops, &c., were 
to choose another son of the same father,* or the next- 

This law, as we have seen, was strenuously and success- 
fully contested by Sverre and others, and illegitimacy was 
not an obstacle to succession. 

In 1260 the king and the archbishop again discussed the 
matter, and finally an agreement was arrived at and a new 

* Provision was also made for the temporary filling of the throne 
if the king was absent from the land. 


law promulgated at the Frosta Tiling. There we read that 
the king, " with the counsel and consent of his son, King 
Magnus, Archbishop Einar, his suffragans, lendermcend, 
clergy, decreed that he should be king in Norway who was 
the king of Norway's eldest legitimate son, but if there is 
no legitimate son, then shall the king's son be king although 
he be not legitimate ; and if there be none of these, he shall 
be king of Norway who is Odel born and next-of-kin and of 
the royal race." 

This law was finally accepted by the various Things of 
Norway, and became henceforth recognized as the law of 
succession. It will be seen that the arrangement arrived 
at, after long years of struggle, was a compromise. The 
Church had hitherto insisted that only the legitimate son 
should succeed, whereas the old law of succession from 
St. Olaf s days did not insist on this as a necessary qualifi- 
cation. Henceforth the legitimate son must be king, if 
there be one surviving, but failing a legitimate heir, the old 
custom was allowed to stand. The absolute claim of the 
hierarchy to arrange the succession was thus, to a considerable 
extent, restricted ; whilst at the same time their contention 
that the legitimate son should be king was recognized. 

Haakon was able to induce the b0nder of the south 
to make a new offering to the maintenance of the Church 
in Trondhjem and Oslo. It was agreed that a penny for 
each head of cattle on a farm should be contributed, and 
thus divided two-thirds to the support of the Dom kirke 
at Nidaros this was known as the Olaf s skat, and one- 
third to Oslo, called the Halvard's skat. 

In 1261, at the marriage of Haakon's son Magnus, to 
Ingeborg, daughter of the Danish king, a very unusual 
course was taken. It was suggested that Magnus and his 
wife should be crowned ; he had already, as we have seen, 
been named as king by the Thing, but a coronation was an 
entirely new departure. After some consideration, Haakon 


consented, and the ceremony was performed by Archbishop 

In the summer of 1263 King Haakon sailed with a large 
fleet and army to Scotland, to enforce his supremacy over 
the Hebrides. A fierce but indecisive battle was fought 
at Largs, in the Clyde, and afterwards Haakon and his fleet 
retired to the Orkneys for the winter. Here Haakon died 
on December 23rd, 1263, at the age of sixty, having held 
the throne of Norway for the long period of forty-six years ; 
his body was in the spring brought to Bergen and buried 
in Christ Church Cathedral, where his famous grandfather 
was interred. Archbishop Einar died in Norway a few 
months before the king. 

During the reign of Haakon the monastic orders in 
Norway were reinforced by the introduction of the two 
recently-founded orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans. 
The first Dominican in Norway was a monk named 
Salomon, who was driven there by stress of weather on 
a voyage to Denmark, and who, in Jarl Skule's time, 
visited Nidaros, where he was favourably received. The 
order quickly gained ground in Norway, and in 1240 had 
monasteries in Nidaros, Bergen, and Oslo. 

The Franciscans seem to have come first in 1230, and they 
soon had monasteries in Konghelle, T0nsberg, and Bergen. 

Some very interesting papal letters were sent to Norway 
during the reign of Haakon and his immediate prede- 
cessor, and they throw a curious light on the life of the 
people, especially in the remoter dioceses in the widespread 
province of Nidaros. The archbishop in 1205 applied to 
the pope (Innocent III.) to know whether it was per- 
missible to substitute beer for water as the " matter " in 
holy baptism. We might naturally imagine that what- 
ever else were wanting in Norway water was always pro- 
curable. The pope, however, was quite clear in his reply 
that nothing but water could be used in the administration 


of this sacrament. It is curious that this question was 
more than once submitted to the papal decision, for we 
find again, in 1241, Gregory IX. writes an almost similar 
letter to Archbishop Sigurd, and lays down the same 
rule as his predecessor. 

Another question was submitted to Gregory IX. with 
respect to the elements in the Holy Communion. The 
archbishop inquired whether, when the Eucharist was 
wanting (deficiente eucharistia) , owing to the lack of corn 
and wine, they might communicate the people with any 
other sort of bread, along with beer or any other drink. 
The pope replied that neither one nor the other was to be 
done under any circumstances (quod neutrum est penitus 
faciendum), but that the form should be " visibilis panis 
de frumento et vini de uvis." He concludes by saying 
that, as had become the custom in other places, "panis 
simpliciter benedictus " could be given to the people.^ 
The meaning of this suggestion seems to be that the poor 
faithful in the remote dioceses would have to be contented 
with the "oblata," or the pain Uni of France. 

With reference to the long-standing question of the 
celibacy of the clergy, and the supposed permission of 
Cardinal Nicholas Breakspeare for the priests to contract 
matrimony, Gregory IX. wrote (in May, 1237) to Arch- 
bishop Sigurd to sternly forbid the practice. In his letter 
he says that they could show no documentary evidence 
whatever for this, and that his predecessor of blessed 
memory could not have granted permission for such an 
enormity. The plea of ancient custom urged by the clergy, 
instead of improving, made matters worse " peccatum non 
minuat sed augmentet." 

The reign of Haakon was on the whole a very prosperous 
time for Norway, and after the death of Duke Skule, in 

* The pope's letter will be found in Norges Gamle Love, Vol. IV., 
page 108, and in " Diplomatarium Norvegicum," Vol. I., No. 16. 


1240, when his power was fully established, he became a 
person of great importance in the North. He was in very 
great favour with the Popes Gregory IX. and Innocent IV., 
and the latter tried to induce him to join in an attack on 
Frederick II., and also to be a candidate for the Imperial 
crown ; but Haakon had no intention of entertaining such a 
project, and shrewdly declared that "he was ready to fight 
against the enemies of the Church, but not all of the Pope's." * 
His alliance was esteemed by many of the princes of 
Europe, and his daughter Christina was married to Prince 
Philip of Castile, the brother of Alfonso the Wise. It was 
this marriage which led to the building of a church 
dedicated to St. Olaf in Spain, as the princess begged her 
husband to erect a church to the honour of the patron 
saint of her native land, which it seems he did. 

* " This, the said king declared to me, Matthew, who wrote this, and 
attested it with a great oath." Matthew Paris (Bohn's edition, Yol. II., 
page 415). 

From a Photograph by] 


[T. OlafWillson. 

From a Wooden Figure (15th Century) originally in Fjeld 
Church, Spiidhordland, now in Bergen Museum. 

[To face 2J. 208. 





Jon Raude, Archbishop Magnus's Codification of the Law The 
T0nsberg Concordat Its Terms Death of Magnus Erik PresU- 
hader Succeeds Conflict between the Regents and the Archbishop 
Jon Flies to Sweden and Dies there The Pope Appoints, per 
provisionem, Bishop J0rund as Primate The Provincial Council 
of Nidaros Disputes in the Church Death of Erik. 

No more striking proof of the wisdom of Haakon 
Haakonss0n's legislation respecting the succession to the 
crown could have been shown, than the peaceable way in 
which his son Magnus succeeded his father on the throne. 
The new monarch had been accepted as his father's 
successor during Haakon's lifetime, and, unlike any former 
king of Norway, had already received his crown. Magnus 
was at home when his father died, having been left in 
charge of the country when the expedition to Scotland 
started. The new king inherited much of the ability of 
his race, but was of a more yielding disposition than his 
father, and above all things wished to live in peace with 
those around him. His early education, which had pro- 
ceeded almost on the same lines as if he were intended for 
holy orders, had made him a man of very considerable 
learning, and also inclined to listen most favourably to the 
demands of the Church. Above all things, the desire to 
promote the welfare of his people and fulfil the responsi- 
bilities of his royal office was the ambition of his life. He 
is known in history as Magnus Lagab0ter (the improver of 
the laws), a title of which any king might well be proud. 

O.S.N. P 


The death of Einar left the see of Nidaros vacant at the 
time of Magnus's accession, and the chapter then elected 
Birger, a monk of the monastery of Tautra, near Nidaros. 
This man was the son of a priest (a circumstance which 
was not likely to make him favourably received at Rome), 
and required, as in the case of Haavard of Bergen,* 
a papal dispensation before he could be consecrated. 
Birger went to Rome in 1264, but just at the time he got 
there Urban IV. died, and the new pope, Clement IV., did 
not succeed until February, 1265. Strange to say, nothing 
more is heard of Birger, who probably died at Rome ; and 
we find Urban IV. (possibly to punish the Nidaros chapter 
for electing Birger) handing over the choice of a new 
archbishop to the heads of four of the chief monastic 
orders in Norway. These men selected Haakon, bishop 
of Oslo, for the metropolitan see. As he was already a 
bishop it was not necessary for him to go to Rome for 
consecration, and the pallium did not arrive for him in 
Norway until 1267, when it was brought there by a 
member of the Nidaros chapter, Jon Raude (Red John), 
who came with it in January, 1267. The new archbishop, 
however, only lived until the August following, and Jon 
Raude was elected as his successor, and went to Rome for 
consecration in 1268, and then returned to his see. 

The war with Scotland, which the king had inherited 
from his father, was brought to a conclusion in 1266 by 
the Treaty of Perth, in which Magnus, in exchange for his 
nominal rule over the Hebrides and Man, was to receive 
an annual tribute from the Scottish kings, as well as a 
sum of money to be paid down. It is remarkable that in 
this treaty, while the Norwegian rule over the Hebrides 
ceased, the authority of the see of Nidaros over the 
diocese of Sodor (Norwegian, Suder0erne) and Man still 

* See page 190. 


After having obtained peace, King Magnus set himself 
to carry out his great design of having but one law for 
the whole of Norway. Hitherto, as we have seen, there 
were practically four parliaments or Things which legis- 
lated for the land the Frosta Thing for the north, the 
Gula Thing for the west, and the Eidsiva and Borgar 
Things for the central and south-eastern parts, the Oplands 
and Viken, &c. 

The king, in his journeys, explained his project to the 
different Things, and they expressed their willingness to 
comply with his wishes. But now a difficulty arose. In all 
the old laws of the four legislative assemblies there were 
from the time of St. Olaf two divisions, the general civil 
law and the Kristenret, and any attempt on the part of 
the Things to deal with the latter at once aroused the 
hostility of the Church. The new archbishop, Jon Raude, 
had not spent his time in Rome, without being well 
indoctrinated with the papal theories of the relations of 
the Church to the State, and in him, Magnus found an 
opponent. The king had secured the adhesion of the 
southern Things to his scheme in the years 1267 8, and 
the new archbishop arrived back in Norway in time for 
the meeting of the Frosta Thing in 1269. The theory of 
the archbishop was that while the king could promulgate 
laws for the State, it was the sole province of the Church 
to legislate in all ecclesiastical matters. The consequence 
of the primate's opposition was, that the new code of laws 
was issued without practically any ecclesiastical section, 
and only contained a confession of faith, and a recognition 
of the royal authority to legislate for the State, and of the 
Church to deal with all things relating to its government. 
Magnus's new code was finally published and accepted 
for the whole country about the year 1274. It will be 
seen that the Church had now gained a very important 
victory over the State, in the recognition of its power to 



legislate for all ecclesiastical affairs, and the time was now 
opportune for insisting on a full recognition of its rights 
from the king and nation. 

The interregnum which followed the death of Pope 
Clement IV. was terminated by the election of Gregory X. 
in 1271, and in the following year the new pope issued 
the summonses for the general council, to be held at 
Lyons in 1274. To this, of course, the Norwegian primate 
and his suffragans were called, and the archbishop, like 
the other metropolitans, was required to report on the 
state of the Church in his province. 

It seemed well to both parties in Norway that some 
formal agreement, with regard to the relations of the 
Church to the State, should be arrived at before the 
council met, and be there submitted to the pope for his 
approval. With this end in view the archbishop called a 
provincial council to meet in Bergen in 1273, and the king 
summoned all the principal men of the kingdom at the 
same time. After a long discussion a number of articles 
were agreed upon between the representatives of the Church 
and State, which were, on the whole, very favourable to 
the claims of the former. 

With this agreement the archbishop and bishops went 
to the council at Lyons, and at the conclusion of the 
general business of the assembly, the Bergen agreement 
was submitted to Gregory X. for his sanction. The pope 
approved all that had been done, but added some new 
clauses, which included the offering of the king's crown on 
the altar at Nidaros and the giving over to the Church (in 
the case of a minority of the Crown) the government of 
the country. Magnus, who was most willing to grant 
great privileges to the Church, was, however, quite firm in 
rejecting these additions of the pope, and things were 
now as they had been before the meeting of the general 


Both parties, however, desired peace, and the archbishop 
was fully cognizant of the greatness of the concessions he 
had received, and did not wish to drive matters too far ; 
and the king was willing to give all he could, without 
encroaching too much on the royal prerogative. 

A new meeting was therefore called at T0nsberg in 1277, 
at which all the representatives of the Church and State 
were present, and what is known in history as the " T0nsberg 
Concordat " was agreed upon. The principal points of this 
new settlement, which was practically the same as that 
arrived at in Bergen in 1273, with a few modifications, 
were as follows : * 

1. The archbishop, on behalf of the Church, abandoned 
all claim to choose the king, and to insist on the offering of 
the crown at Nidaros, so long as there was a lawful heir to 
the throne. But failing such heir, the archbishop and the 
bishops were to have a preponderating voice in the choice 
of the king; but they were, in such case, to make a 
declaration that they acted solely for the good of the 

2. The clergy were to be entirely exempt from lay juris- 
diction of all kinds, even when there were cases in which 
a layman was involved. Also all cases of which the Church 
had any cognizance by canon law e.g., marriage, wills, 
patronage, tithes, oaths, Church property, perjury, simony, 
public morals, &c. were to come before the ecclesiastical 

3. The right of patronage to churches of all kinds was 
handed over to the bishops. 

4. The election of bishops and abbots to be free from all 
interference. The nominee, however, before his election 
was confirmed, had to inform the king, who had a right to 
protest against the candidate. 

* The Latin original will be found in the Norges GamU Love, 
Vol. II., page 462. 


5. All ecclesiastical persons were exempted from military 
service, except in cases of great emergency, approved by 
the bishop. 

Other articles allowed the archbishop a retinue of one 
hundred men, and the bishops forty. The archbishop's 
rights to export corn to, and to trade in falcons from, 
Iceland were confirmed, also his privilege of coining money. 
Pilgrims were to be protected. 

Finally it was agreed that in all disputes arising from 
this concordat the archbishop and the king should each 
appoint a man to decide all questions, and if they could 
not agree a third person was to be called in. 

It will at once be seen, when we contrast these terms 
with the points in dispute since the time of Sverre, what 
a striking victory the Church had won, and how much the 
ecclesiastical power had gained from the State. It is true 
the archbishop was not able to extort from the king the 
submission which had been demanded from Magnus 
Erlingss0n. In spite of his gentle and peace-loving nature, 
he had enough of the spirit of Sverre, and of his father, to 
refuse to hold his kingdom as a grant from the Church. 
Nevertheless the Church had received an enormous increase 
of her power, and gained privileges and control over the 
laity above that which was enjoyed in almost any other 
country in Europe. It is not a little remarkable that this 
concordat was completed and sworn to by both parties, 
without any consultation with, or sanction of, the pope, 
and at the same time his additions to the Bergen agree- 
ment of 1273, were abandoned by the Church. 

The chiefs of Norway agreed very unwillingly to the 
terms of the concordat, but they did so in the interests of 
peace, and the hope of finally putting an end to the dis- 
putes, which had lasted so long and done so much harm. 

It was at this time that King Magnus, probably with a 
desire to strengthen the power and authority of the chiefs, 


gave them new titles. The lendermcend, or feudatories, were 
henceforth called barons, and the hirdmcend, or king's 
special followers, attached to the court, were named 
knights. From this time a special caste of nobility began 
to arise in Norway, different from the ancient days when 
all b0nder were equal, and the chiefs were generally the 
b0nder who owned the greatest possessions. 

Magnus, in a well-meant endeavour to conciliate the 
Church, took the very unpopular step of extending tithe 
to all kinds of produce, both of land and sea, and he also 
conferred many extra privileges upon the archbishop and 

These various concessions and privileges, which the 
Church had obtained through the mediumship of Arch- 
bishop Jon, were not likely to remain unused. The 
archbishop at once set to work to have his new ecclesiastical 
law, based on the Concordat, formally promulgated. With 
this in view he summoned a provincial council to meet in 
Bergen in the summer of 1280, and the king called all 
the chiefs at the same time, with the intention of having 
his young son Erik crowned there. 

King Magnus, in spite of the great concessions he had 
made, does not seem to have been very hopeful that they 
would finally settle all disputes. " Wait until I am three 
years dead and you will see," were his foreboding words 
to his followers when they spoke of the matter. 

Magnus did not live to see the council. He had ]ong 
been ailing, and died in Bergen on the 9th of May, 1280, 
at the early age of 42 years. He was hardly a strong 
enough man for the difficult part he had to play, and his 
love of peace often led him to give way, when perhaps the 
interests of his kingdom demanded firmness. The great 
work of his reign was his securing one Jaw for the whole 
kingdom, for which he well deserved to be held in honour 
by all his people. 


It was during this reign that the Hanseatic League 
gained a footing in Norway, and though it led to an 
increase of trade, it ended by the foreigners getting it all 
into their own hands, to the manifest injury of the country, 
until at last the power of the great league was broken. 
The trade of Norway with England had considerably 
increased in the thirteenth century, and from the year 1200 
there was free trade between the two countries. 

The death of Magnus Lagab0ter left the Norwegian 
Church at the summit of its power. By the Concordat of 
T0nsberg it had gained a great victory over the State, 
which the subsequent grants of the king confirmed and 
strengthened. But the very completeness of the victory 
contained the elements which led to the subsequent loss of 
power ; and the grants of the king, especially in the matter 
of tithes, aroused a very deep feeling of resentment in the 
minds of the people, which before long made itself felt. 

At first, however, the power of the Church appeared to 
be supreme. The council, and the meeting of the chiefs, 
assembled in Bergen, where the archbishop arrived on 
June 16th, 1280. The first business which came before the 
meeting was, in consequence of Magnus's death, the corona- 
tion of his son Erik,* who was then a boy of only twelve 
years of age. The late king had intended to have had his 
son crowned (following the precedent in his own case) on 
June 24th, but difficulties arose between the chiefs (or 
barons as they were now called) and the archbishop 
respecting the coronation oath. The form in which the 
archbishop wished it, was very unpalatable to the chiefs ; 
but they did not feel themselves at the time, strong enough 
to do more than object to its terms, and the archbishop had 

* The name Prestehader (the priest hater), by which Erik is known, 
seems to be quite undeserved. The conflicts with the Church were 
fiercest during his minority, and when he came of age his influence was 
always on the side of peace and moderation. 


his way. Erik was crowned in the cathedral on July 2nd, 
and took the following oath : " To the bishops and clergy 
I shall yield all fitting honour, and I shall hold intact what 
has been given by the kings to the Church in accordance 
with the compact between the Church and the kingdom. 
Wrong laws and bad customs namely, those which are 
against the freedom of the holy Church I shall abolish 
and ordain better ones." This oath, by an oversight on 
the part of the archbishop, was not, as usual in the case 
of a minority, sworn by the chiefs, to whom, along with 
the queen mother, Ingeborg, the regency during the king's 
minority was committed. 

The archbishop now proceeded with his council, which 
was attended by all the bishops of Norway, and also those 
of Skaalholt and Hole, in Iceland, and the bishops of the 
Fseroe Islands and Sodor and Man. The council drew up 
a number of regulations with reference to the ban of the 
Church, which was to be pronounced against any one who 
dared to infringe on the terms of the T0nsberg Concordat, 
or who brought the clergy into any civil court of law, &c. 
He was also anxious to have his new version of the 
Kristenret fully confirmed and adopted. 

But already the reaction had begun, and the archbishop 
found he had not to deal with a young lad, but with a 
number of barons who would pay but little heed to the 
threats which he might utter. The two principal men in the 
new council of regency, which managed the affairs of the 
kingdom, were Bjarne Erlingss0n and Bjarne Lodinss0n. 
The regents now issued an ordinance, in which were 
many things directly in conflict with the terms of the 
T0nsberg Concordat, and which was plainly intended as a 
challenge to the archbishop and the Church. Jon at first 
tried to get the regents to withdraw from the position they 
had taken up, and threatened excommunication, but found 
that they were quite indifferent to this. Then, as a 


compromise, both parties agreed to lay the case before the 
pope, and the archbishop left Bergen and returned to Nidaros. 
Matters remained for some time longer without any very 
serious move on either side, and the popular feeling against 
the claims of the Church, especially in the matter of tithes, 

In 1281 the regents negotiated the marriage of the young 
king, with Margaret the daughter of Alexander III. of 
Scotland, without consulting the primate. The princess 
arrived in Bergen in the August of that year, where the 
wedding was solemnized by the archbishop. In the midst 
of the festivities, however, the quarrel broke out afresh, the 
archbishop objecting to the presence of one of the chiefs 
whom he had excommunicated ; and very soon after left for 
Nidaros, having excommunicated Bjarne Erlingss0n and 
Andres Plytt, for the crime of procuring from the young 
king a revocation of his privilege of coining money. 

Very soon after Jon left Bergen, Andres Plytt died, and 
then followed a curious incident. The clergy refused to 
permit the bells of the churches to be rung at the funeral, 
as Andres was under the ban, but the regents' men broke 
open the doors of the church towers and had them rung 
in spite of them. They then turned on the Bergen clergy, 
and gave them the choice of ignoring the excommunications 
or of leaving the country, and the priests in Bergen 
preferred the former. 

The regents now took stronger measures. They ordered 
the new system of tithes to be given up and the old system 
again to be universal, and further, in defiance of the 
council of Bergen and the T0nsberg agreement, decreed 
that the lay judges should have the power to try, as 
in former days, all cases which came under the ancient 
Kristenret. The appeal to the pope, on which both 
parties were agreed, did not lead to anything. Martin IV. 
was at that time on the papal throne. When the case 


came on the representatives of the regents demanded 
that the pope should send a legate to Norway to abrogate 
the T0nsberg Concordat, and on this being, very natu- 
rally, refused, they left Home, and the matter practically 

The king's council now proceeded further against the 
clergy, and arrested several who stood by the archbishop 
and confiscated their property. The strife grew so great 
that at last Archbishop Jon and Bishops Andreas of Oslo 
and Thorfinn of Hamar, were obliged to leave the country, 
the archbishop taking refuge in Sweden. 

The regents then sent Jon Brynjulfss0n to Nidaros. He 
seized the property of the archbishop and the chapter, and 
took up his abode in the archbishop's palace, where, to the 
great scandal of the faithful, he actually dared to sleep in 
the archbishop's own bed. 

Jon did not long survive his exile. He died at Skara, in 
Sweden, on December 21st, 1282, and was buried there, as 
the regents would not permit his body to be brought 
to Nidaros ; but a year afterwards the permission was 
given, and it was disinterred and conveyed to his own 

Jon Kaude was much beloved by his friends, who gave 
him the name of "The Steadfast." That he was steadfast 
in the maintenance of the claims of the Church there can 
be no doubt, but he does not seem to have been at all as 
great a man as his famous predecessors, Eystein and Erik, 
or to have known how best to use the great victory he had 
won. With a little more tact and discretion he might have 
kept the peace and avoided the fresh outbreak between the 
Church and State. The two other bishops went to Rome 
first, and then Thorfinn of Hamar went to Doest, in 
Flanders, where he died,* and Andreas of Oslo made peace 
and returned to his see. At this time it would seem that a 
* Daae "Norges ffelgener," page 177. 


very general attack was made on Church property in 
different places, especially in those dioceses which were left 
without bishops, and many of the chiefs or barons were 
guilty in this respect. 

The king, who had now, of course, attained his legal 
majority (though guided largely by the counsel of Bjarne 
Erlingss0n and others), found it necessary to intervene for 
the protection of the Church's property. In 1283 he, 
along with his brother, Duke Haakon, issued a proclamation 
taking the see of Nidaros under his protection, and ordering 
that all the tithes and fines should be paid which were due, 
but they were to be computed according to the old 
Kristenret, and not after the recent arrangement with King 
Magnus. It was felt by many that the regents had gone 
too far in the strife against the archbishop, and this feeling 
was intensified by the troubles which came upon the 
country at this time. There was much sickness among 
men and animals ; the harvests had been very bad, almost 
producing famine in places. The young Queen Margaret 
died in 1283, and several of the chief men ; and the king 
had a very narrow escape from death through an accident 
when out riding. In all these calamities, the mass of the 
people saw an evidence of the anger of Heaven at the 
way the Church had been treated. The see of Nidaros 
had been some time vacant, and no one seemed to very 
much desire such a dangerous post. In 1284 the chapter 
at last chose Bishop Narve of Bergen, but the pope 
raised objections against him. Then another attempt 
was made, and a member of the chapter, Eindride, 
was chosen, and an embassy was sent to Eome to procure 
the papal sanction. 

The ambassadors on arriving at Eome had interviews 
with Honorius IV., and the result was that he set aside the 
nominee of the chapter, and appointed, per provisionem, 
J0rund, bishop of Hamar, in February, 1287, to the 


archbishopric, but owing to the death of Honorius IV., and 
the delay in appointing his successor, it was not until 
October, 1288, that J0rund was invested with the pallium 
at Nidaros. 

The new archbishop had a very difficult part to play, and 
it can hardly be said he was equal to it, though the Saga 
says " he was firm in friendship, generous to his followers, 
and a dignified man." He began his episcopate in Nidaros 
by a liberal distribution of excommunications among the 
chiefs who had attacked the Church, including Jon 
Brynjulfss0n, whom we have before mentioned. The new 
archbishop and the bishops, were averse to continuing the 
strife with the State, in which Jon had suffered such a 
severe defeat, and seem to have desired, if possible, to come 
to terms with the king and his counsellors, as soon as they 
could. The T0nsberg Concordat was the high- water mark 
of the Church's power in Norway, and the attempt of Jon 
to carry it out in all its fulness, had provoked the reaction 
which led to his and the other bishops' banishment. Now 
the prelates were actuated with a desire to save as much as 
they could from the storm which had burst upon them. 

Soon after J0rund's enthronement in Nidaros, a suitable 
opportunity occurred of coming to an understanding with 
the State. The king and his brother Haakon came on a 
pilgrimage to Nidaros (1289), and while there he and the 
archbishop seem to have come to terms. The following 
May, 1290, the king and Duke Haakon issued a letter in 
which they stated that they had come to an agreement 
with the archbishop and bishops, in which they had decided 
to revert to the old Kristenret which prevailed in the country 
before the T0nsberg Concordat, and that this should include 
tithes and fines, &c., about which so many complaints had 
been made by the people. Thus again the contending 
parties in Church and State went back to the ground they 
had before occupied. In the truce with Haakon Sverress0n 


in 1202 it was, "as in 1152" ; so now it was, "as before 
the T0nsberg Concordat." The Church had, however, gained 
immensely in power from the time of the respite which 
followed the great struggle under Erik, and could afford to 
abandon its claims of supremacy over the State when it had 
obtained practical independence of royal control. The 
T0nsberg Concordat was not formally abrogated, but became 
a dead letter, and the peace now brought about lasted for a 
very long period. It was not until 1458 that the T0nsberg 
Concordat became again recognized, under Kristian I. of 

Peace having been thus secured, the archbishop turned 
his attention to the state of the Church in Norway, and 
called a provincial council in Nidaros in August, 1290. 
The bishops found that there were many matters in the life 
of the clergy and people which needed reform, and they 
issued a number of very useful canons. Among other 
things they ordered all parish priests to preach every 
Sunday and instruct the people about baptism and confirma- 
tion, and also to be diligent in teaching both young and old 
the Creed, Lord's Prayer, and Ave Maria, and to see that 
those who did not learn were punished. They were also to 
see that due reverence was paid to the Blessed Sacrament 
both in church and when it was borne to the sick and 
dying. The priests were not permitted to duplicate Mass 
on Sundays, except on the great festivals or where they had 
to serve two churches, &c. 

In the monastic establishments it was ordained that 
sacred writings should be read at meal times, " so that the 
ears should not be open to slander and offence." 

The remaining years of the reign of King Erik the Church 
and State never came into conflict. The archbishop, indeed, 
did his best to keep on good terms with the king, and agreed 
to be considered as one of the king's jarls, and did homage 
for his temporal possessions, which act was regarded with 


much disfavour by the Church generally.* The archbishop 
and the bishops were too much occupied in settling internal 
disputes to have time, even if they had the inclination, to 
enter upon any fresh conflict with the State. 

In Norway, as in every other country of Europe, many 
disputes had broken out between the secular clergy and the 
mendicant orders, and as they went on almost exactly the 
same lines as elsewhere, we need not enter upon them at 
any length. In addition to these disputes, fierce quarrels 
broke out between the cathedral chapters and their bishops. 
In Nidaros a prolonged dispute was maintained between 
Archbishop J0rund and the chapter with regard to their 
respective rights, in which, after an appeal to the pope, the 
victory rested in the main with the chapter. A similar 
struggle went on at Stavanger with Bishop Arne, which 
lasted until the death of the latter in 1303. 

The other disputes were between the cathedral chapters 
and the mendicant orders. The first was in Bergen, 
where the clergy and chapter were very hostile to the 
Dominicans. The latter decreed that none of the clergy 
should give them either "shelter, food, or alms." The 
bishop, Narve, who had himself been a Dominican, tried in 
vain to have this order recalled, but the hostility of the 
chapter and secular clergy was too strong for him. 

In Oslo the dispute was between the chapter and the 
Franciscans. Duke Haakon had given the monks material 
for building a church, and they had set to work, when the 
chapter promptly gave orders to have it pulled down. 
The pope was appealed to, and ordered the bishop and 
representatives of the chapter to Eome, and they found it 
prudent under these circumstances to give way. 

Kiog Erik died in Bergen in July, 1299, in his thirty- 
first year. By his marriage with Margaret, the daughter 

* This arrangement lasted until King Haakon's time, when it was 
done away with at Oslo in 1310. 


of Alexander III. of Scotland, he had one daughter named 
Margaret. On her grandfather's death without leaving any 
son, she was accepted as the queen of Scotland, and it was 
arranged that she should marry Edward, the son of 
Edward I. of England. The " Maid of Norway," as 
young Margaret was called, sailed to take possession of 
her crown in 1290. She was then only eight years old. 
To the subsequent great misfortune of both Scotland and 
England, the young princess expired on her arrival at the 
Orkneys. King Erik married a second time, Isabella, the 
sister of Robert Bruce of Scotland, and by her he had one 
daughter, Ingeborg. On Erik's death his brother, Duke 
Haakon, succeeded him on the throne, and was crowned in 
Nidaros by Archbishop J0rund, in either the August or 
November following. 


The last Male of Harald Haarfagre's line New Law of Succession- 
Archbishop J0rund's Council at Oslo The King and Duke Erik 
The King procures the Appointment of a " Magister Capellarum 
Regis " His Policy in this Death of Archbishop J0rund Bishop 
Arne of Bergen and his Quarrels Murder of Duke Erik Death of 

HAAKON, who during his brother's lifetime had borne 
the title of duke, succeeded Erik without any dispute. He 
had for several years before his accession taken a promi- 
nent part in the government of the country, and practically 
shared the royal power with the king. Haakon was a man 
of much stronger character and force of will than Erik, 
and he soon let it be felt, that he intended to rule with a 
firm hand over both the barons and the Church. 

He had seen, during his brother's reign, that the growing 
power of the barons constituted a very serious danger to 
the royal authority, and very soon after his accession he 
detected some of them in treasonable correspondence, and 
had Audun Hugleikss0n executed, and forced Bjarne 
Lodinss0n to fly from the land. 

The king was the last of the long race of Harald 
Haarfagre in the male line, and not having any son. he 
was anxious to make a new arrangement with regard to 
the law of succession. In 1302 he called an assembly 
to meet in Oslo to arrange for this, and for the govern- 
ment of the country in the case of a minority. The 
king had two daughters one, Ingeborg, daughter of his 
queen, Euphemia of Ktigen, and another, Agnes, who was 

O.S.N. Q 


illegitimate. Ingeborg was at this time only just a year old. 
The proposal respecting the inheritance was to permit the 
succession of the legitimate son of a legitimate daughter, 
next after the legitimate son's son, and before the legitimate 
brother. The king's object was in case his daughter 
Ingeborg lived, and became the mother of a son, that he 
should succeed. He also extended the legal period of a 
regency to the king's twentieth year instead of the twelfth. 
The regents were to be twelve in number, (and to include 
the chancellor) ; four of these were always to be 
attached to the king's person. The object of the reform 
was to include in the regency a certain number of officials, 
who would act as a check on the power of the barons. 
These changes, for some reason or other, the king omitted 
to have brought before the Thing for its formal acceptance. 

Haakon now decided to find a suitable person to whom to 
betroth his infant daughter, and selected Duke Erik of 
Sweden, brother of the Swedish king Birger Magnuss0n, a 
young man of great talents, and of a very ambitious turn 
of mind. He was the same year, 1302, betrothed to the 
baby princess Ingeborg. Duke Erik did his best to 
ingratiate himself with all the people in Norway, the barons 
and the clergy, and especially with the queen Euphemia, 
and set himself to form a party which he hoped might 
possibly be strong enough to place him on the throne. The 
king was mindful of all this, but for some years there was 
no open breach between him and the duke. 

Archbishop J0rund and his chapter, had been on bad 
terms for a long time, and though an arrangement had been 
arrived at in 1299, the strife broke out again and raged 
more furiously than before. In 1302 the king went to 
Nidaros and held a Thing, and positively commanded the 
chapter to come to terms with the archbishop, which they 
did, but they were practically those of the last settlement, 
in which the archbishop got decidedly the worst of it. 


The royal rebuke to the chapter was intended to save 
appearances, but the victory in reality rested with it. 

Archbishop J0rund, however, did not spend all his 
energies in fighting with his chapter, but devoted himself 
as well to the care of his province. In 1306 he called a 
provincial council at Oslo, which was attended by all the 
Norwegian bishops, and also Erlend, of the Fseroe Islands. 
Several very useful matters were arranged at this meeting. 
The rapid growth of the monastic establishments in Norway 
necessitated some attention to their condition. It was found 
that there was much ignorance amongst the brothers, and it 
was ordered that certain promising young men from the 
cloisters, were to be sent abroad to study, and maintained 
at the expense of these establishments. 

A more serious abuse was dealt with in cases where it 
was found that nuns had received men as brothers into 
nunneries, and monks, women as sisters into monasteries. 
This was, in future, absolutely prohibited, and not to be 
tolerated "under any circumstances whatever." The 
bishops were directed to appoint suitable confessors. 

The king now set himself to further curtail the power of 
the barons, or chiefs. From Oslo, in June, 1308, he issued 
an order by which the sysselmcend were brought directly 
under the king's control. The titles of jarl and lendermand 
were in future restricted to the king's sons and the jarl of 
the Orkneys. The present holders of these titles were to 
keep them for their lives. The king also created several 
new court officials, such as the standard-bearer, vice-chan- 
cellor, constable, &c. That Haakon was able to carry out 
such reforms was a manifest proof of his strength, and 
from this time onward, the growth of an aristocratic power 
in Norway, which might rival that of the king, seems to 
have been effectually stopped. 

The relations between Haakon and Duke Erik had 
become more and more strained at this time, and the 


former saw plainly what were the duke's aims, and so 
he determined to break with him. The war which had 
dragged on for some years with Denmark was brought to 
an end in the September after the king's decree about the 
lendermcend, which we have just mentioned ; and an agree- 
ment was made by which the young princess Ingeborg 
was to be betrothed to Magnus, the son of the Swedish 
king, and nephew of Erik, king of Denmark. When Duke 
Erik of Sweden learned of this new arrangement, and saw 
that the king had decided to break with him, he, in the 
winter made a sudden attack on Oslo, and ravaged the 
country around. He failed, however, in an attempt on the 
fortress of Akershus, beside Oslo, and was obliged to 
retire to Sweden. 

Just at this time King Haakon carried through a design 
which he had been meditating for some years, and which 
was intended to establish a powerful defence on his side 
against the authority of the bishops. We have seen how 
he had checked the growth of the power of the barons, and he 
wished also to enlist on his side an ecclesiastical force, which 
would defend him in any possible attacks from the arch- 
bishop and bishops. 

The kings had before now felt, the want of a body of men 
who were learned and courtly enough to carry on negotia- 
tions, either with foreign powers or with their own people. 
At this time the clergy were practically the only men with 
any pretensions to learning in the kingdom. It had been 
usual from the earliest times for the kings to have attached 
to their persons, one or more priests (or bishops, as in the 
days of the two Olafs), who acted as what we would now 
call court chaplains. Some of these chaplains e.g., Martin, 
Sverre's chaplain had become bishops, but the kings felt 
that if they were advanced to the position of diocesans 
and came under the direct influence of the Koman curia, 
they would soon very likely come into collision. Haakoii's 


idea, therefore, was to raise up in Norway a body of clergy 
who were to be independent of episcopal control, and who 
would be entirely devoted to the interests of the Crown. 
There were at this time in his kingdom fourteen royal 
chapels, to which the king, in spite of the various agree- 
ments with the Church, seems to have retained the 
patronage. The principal of these were, the royal chapel 
in Bergen, known as the Apostles' Church, the Maria Kirke 
in Oslo, St. Michael's Church in T0nsberg, and St. Olaf at 
Agvaldsnses,^ not far from Haugesund. Some of the royal 
churches were collegiate, and had a regular body of canons. 
The king's idea was to unite these churches under one man, 
with gwasi-episcopal powers, and to form what, in modern 
days, would correspond to an " exempt jurisdiction," or 
" royal peculiar." 

Haakon went to work very prudently. Instead of 
negotiating with the archbishop, who was certain to oppose 
such a scheme, he approached the pope directly. In 
Clement V., the nominee of the French king, who brought 
the papal seat to Avignon, he found the man for his pur- 
pose. After some delay he got the pope to issue a letter in 
February, 1308, in which the pope stated that " on account 
of the king's merits, which made him worthy of the favour 
of the Apostolic see," he gave him leave to carry out his 
plan. The provost of the Apostles' Church in Bergen was 
to be the head of all the royal chapels, with the title of 
ie Magister Capellarum Kegis," and to this officer was given 
permission to wear a mitre and to carry a crozier, and to 
" visit" the royal chapels under his care. The first man to 
hold this office was Finn Halldorss0n, the provost of the 
royal chapel in Bergen. 

Thus Haakon triumphed over both the temporal aristo- 
cracy, and inflicted also a severe blow to the power of the 

: This church can still be seen, with an ancient lautastm, or mono- 
lith, beside it, known as Jomfru Maria's Synaal (the B. V. M.'s needle). 


bishops. Indeed, at this time he was to all intents and 
purposes an absolute monarch. 

Archbishop J0rund did not long survive this triumph 
of royal diplomacy. He died at Nidaros in April, 1309, 
and to the end of his days, in spite of the various " settle- 
ments" which had been made, kept up the fight with 
his chapter. He was not a man of the same lofty 
stamp as some of his predecessors, and his bad temper 
and quarrelsome disposition kept him always in conflict 
with others. He did much, however, to improve the 
internal condition of the Norwegian Church by the legis- 
lation carried through in the two important councils, over 
which he presided at Nidaros and Oslo. His successor 
was found in Eiliv Arness0n, who is described as being 
" a great chief, of good manners." 

During the concluding years of J0rund's episcopate 
Bishop Arne, of Bergen, was ruling his diocese with a 
strong hand. At a diocesan synod held in Bergen in 1307 
he issued stringent orders to enforce celibacy among his 
clergy. Many of them, like the clergy in other parts of 
Europe, were living with what were called in Norway 
f riller (focarise), a state of things which was quite approved 
of by their people. It was only gradually, and after a long 
time, that celibacy was even partially enforced among the 
parochial clergy. They long resisted the demands of the 
bishops and the pope, on the ground that Cardinal Nicholas 
in 1152 had expressly granted them permission to live in 
matrimony. In his cathedral town he had a long contro- 
versy with the Hanseatic merchants, who wished to escape 
the payment of tithe, on the ground that they were only 
there for a time ; but the bishop held, that those who spent 
the winter in Bergen were undoubtedly liable, and after 
a prolonged dispute, the point was finally settled in the 
bishop's favour. 

It was hardly to be expected that the Norwegian bishops 


would view with equanimity the " Magister Capellarum 
Eegis," whose office they would naturally consider to be an 
encroachment on their own authority. Bishop Arne 
especially was of a temper which would not look with 
favour on this new official, whose residence was in his 
diocese. We find that he very soon quarrelled with Finn 
Halldorss0n, and in 1310 a great dispute broke out between 
them with reference to fees and tithes, which the latter 
claimed. The bishop quickly threatened excommunication, 
and Finn referred the matter to the pope, who, not wishing to 
offend the king, temporized, and, while not altogether backing 
up Finn, he ordered that the bishop should perform all epis- 
copal offices for the Magister, but he confirmed the right of 
the king's official to wear the episcopal garments, &c. There 
were other disputes with this Dean of the Chapels Koyal, 
as we might call him, but the office ceased to be of 
importance as soon as the union with Denmark began. 

The pugnacious bishop of Bergen had also a quarrel 
with his metropolitan. The new archbishop, Eiliv, who 
was elected in 1309, did not go at once to the pope for 
consecration. He received a summons with the other 
bishops to the council of Vienne in January, 1310. He 
was consecrated in 1 3 1 1 , probably at Avignon. It was after 
his return that the archbishop demanded what was known in 
Norway as the pallie-lijwlp, or subsidy, which consisted of 
a portion of the tithes of the hoved kirker, to defray the 
expenses of the journey to Kome or Avignon. It seems 
doubtful if this tax was first levied in Eiliv's days, or 
whether it had existed before. There does not seem to 
have been any refusal to pay this, but Arne was very 
angry when the archbishop appointed Finn Halldorss0n to 
collect it, and at once threatened to excommunicate any 
one who paid it to Finn. Then both sides appealed to 
the pope, and the matter seems at last to have ended in 
the archbishop's favour. We must now turn back to the 


events of King Haakon's reign, and it is necessary to be 
clear about them, as they have much to do with the 
subsequent history. 

We have seen that King Haakon had quarrelled with 
Duke Erik, and had made peace with Denmark and 
Sweden, at Copenhagen, in 1309. The king of Denmark 
made an expedition into the south of Sweden on behalf 
of his brother-in-law Birger, who was at war with Erik 
and Valdemar, but had to retreat. Then Erik and Haakon 
again came to terms, and a new peace was made at Hel- 
singborg in 1310, by which it was arranged that Erik was 
now to marry a niece of the Danish king. The wily Erik, 
however, had other ideas, but agreed outwardly, and went 
to the pope to procure a dispensation, as the Danish 
princess was within the forbidden degrees. He seems to 
have arranged not to get this, and returned to Sweden, 
and then, in September, 1312, he and his brother went to 
Oslo, and Erik married Ingeborg, and Valdemar, the other 
Ingeborg, daughter of the late King Erik of Norway and 
niece of King Haakon. The Danish king was naturally 
very angry, but a peace was again made in 1313 at 
Helsingborg. Matters thus remained for a couple of 
years, but the dukes were on very bad terms with their 
brother, King Birger. 

In 131 6 Erik's wife Ingeborg bore a son, to the great joy 
of King Haakon, who now had a grandson to whom the 
crown should go on his death, and Duke Erik was con- 
fident that, as the father of the future king, he could 
accomplish his designs with regard to the royal power. 
But a terrible tragedy was at hand. In December, 1317, 
King Birger invited his two brothers to visit him at the 
Castle of Nykj0ping, and professed a desire to be fully 
reconciled to them. The two dukes accepted the offer and 
went to the castle. The next night they were seized and 
thrown into a dungeon, and in a month after, both were 


dead probably starved to death, or in some other way 

This terrible crime roused a storm of indignation against 
Birger, and he was forced to fly from Sweden. Haakon 
came to the country to support the claims of his grandson, 
and the party of the murdered dukes defeated Birger, who 
had collected some forces at Skaane, in 1318. Birger 's son 
Magnus, who had been held as a captive, was executed in 
Stockholm in 1320 by the dukes' party, for fear he should 
escape and raise forces against them. King Birger, who 
had taken refuge in Denmark, died there in 1321. 

The murder of the two dukes was a terrible blow to 
King Haakon, who seems to have been in poor health at 
the time, and he never recovered from it. Feeling that 
his life would not last much longer, he called a meeting of 
the chiefs in T0nsberg in April, 1319, and there he caused 
them to swear allegiance to his little grandson. The eight 
principal officials and chiefs of his kingdom undertook in 
the most solemn manner to carry out Haakon 's arrange- 
ments made in 1302 with respect to the regency, and they 
further undertook to guard against foreigners being placed 
in positions of authority in the country. The king's fore- 
boding as to his approaching death was verified. He died 
the next month, on May 8th, 1319, in the forty -ninth year 
of his age, and with him the race of Harald Haarfagre, in 
the male line, became extinct, after having furnished 
Norway with rulers for three hundred and eighty-six years. 

Haakon V. was a man much loved by his people generally, 
and was in almost all respects a very noble king. He was, 
like some of his immediate predecessors, a man of consider- 
able learning for his time. He understood and could 
converse in Latin, and caused to be translated, under his 
own supervision, portions of the Old Testament from the 
Vulgate into Norwegian, as well as a selection from the 
lives of the saints. These works were read to the king 


and his courtiers on Sundays during dinner. In his reign 
the Church in Norway had reached perhaps its most pros- 
perous period during the whole of the middle ages. The 
constant strife between the royal and ecclesiastical power, 
which had been very injurious to the cause of religion, had 
practically ceased ; and, under the wise and judicious rule 
of Archbishop Eiliv, abuses were checked and attention 
closely paid to the instruction of the people in the tenets 
of the faith. The various councils which were held, kept 
the bishops and clergy in touch one with another, and the 
abuses which were so prevalent in the south of Europe, 
from the worldliness of the higher clergy, were but little 
known in Norway. After Haakon's death the prosperity 
of the Church continued, but only for a short time, when 
a calamity befell the nation and the Church, which is 
perhaps the best explanation of the extraordinary paralysis 
of national and ecclesiastical life which manifested itself in 
later years. This was the visitation of the terrible Sorte 
D0d, the Black Death, the result of which produced effects 
more far-reaching perhaps in Norway, than in any other 
country of Europe. 



The Union of Norway and Sweden Provincial Council at Bergen 
Duchess Ingeborg deprived of Power A Drotsete (Lord Protector) 
appointed Fire at Nidaros Archbishop Paul's Council at Oslo 
Discontent in Norway Sodor and Man finally separated from the 
Norwegian Church The Black Death comes from England to 
Bergen, 1349 Its Ravages The Desolation of the Church 
Archbishop Olaf 's Council at Nidaros Death of Magnus. 

THE death of Haakon V. left the little three-years-old 
Magnus Erikss0n the sole heir of the throne of Norway, in 
accordance with the law of succession established by his 
grandfather eighteen years before. The council of regency 
appointed by Haakon at once took charge of the affairs of 
the kingdom. As the throne of Sweden was practically 
vacant King Birger having been driven out of the country, 
and his son Magnus, though still alive, being held as a 
close prisoner in Stockholm young Magnus Erikss0n was 
therefore, failing these, the heir to the Swedish as well as 
the Norwegian crown, a state of things which Haakon V., 
with all his foresight, does not seem to have contemplated. 

The party of the murdered dukes, Erik and Valdemar, 
held a meeting in Upsala to consider the question of the 
succession to the crown ; and the upshot of this was that a 
deputation, headed by the bishop of Linkj0ping, went to 
Oslo to confer with the Norwegian chiefs, including Arch- 
bishop Eiliv and the bishop of Stavanger. It was then 
agreed that on the return of the Swedish delegates they 
should advise that Magnus Erikss0n be chosen as king of 


Sweden. Accordingly another meeting was held at Upsala, 
and on July 8th, 1319, he was formally accepted as king 
of Sweden. 

Thus for the first time Sweden and Norway were united 
under one king. The two kingdoms were, however, only 
bound together by " the golden link of the crown." In all 
other respects they were to remain, as before, quite distinct 
and separate, with their own laws and customs and their 
own revenues. The king was to reside for a portion of the 
year in each kingdom, and his Swedish advisers were to 
have no authority in Norway, and vice versa. In many 
respects the arrangement made at this time, was very much 
the same, as that which prevails between Norway and 
Sweden in our own day. 

Although young Magnus may be said to have succeeded 
to the throne on his grandfather's death, his formal accept- 
ance as king of Norway did not take place until a gathering 
at T0nsberg in August, 1319. The young king's mother, 
Ingeborg (the widow of Duke Erik), had a good deal to do 
with the management of affairs. She was little more than 
a child when Magnus was born, and was left a widow when 
only seventeen. She unfortunately came very much under 
the influence of a Danish nobleman, Knut Porse, who had 
designs on the crown of Denmark, and her conduct caused 
very great dissatisfaction in Norway. 

We must now revert to ecclesiastical affairs. In 1320 
Archbishop Eiliv summoned a provincial council in 
Bergen, which was held at a time when the young king 
and his mother were in the city. All the Norwegian 
bishops attended, and the bishops of the Orkneys and the 
Fseroe Isles. Many of the decrees of this council are 
interesting from the light which they throw on the state of 
life which prevailed in the Church in Norway at this time. 
Several of them were similar to those we find in other 
countries, but some, of course,, were intended to deal with 


the peculiar circumstances connected with Church life in 
Norway. The regulation of the monastic establishments 
proceeded on the same lines as that of Archbishop J0rund's 
council in Oslo in 1306, but the rules with respect to the 
parochial clergy, and the exercise of discipline among the 
laity, are interesting. 

We find further legislation directed against the state of 
concubinage, in which many of the parochial clergy lived, 
now thab matrimony had been absolutely forbidden. It 
was ordered that if any priest had a frille within a month 
from receiving notice of the decree, he should be fined 
four marks for a priest of a hoved Jcirke, and two marks for 
a kapellan, or a deacon ; continuance in this, doubled the 
fine in a few days, and ultimately led to a forfeiture of the 

The priests were ordered to keep the baptismal font 
clean, and to procure oil for extreme unction from the 
bishop every year. Stringent rules were made respecting 
the duty of the parish priests to baptize infants and to 
shrive the dying. If a priest was guilty of negligence in 
these matters he was to be suspended, but it was ordered 
that those who required the services of the priest must send 
a horse for him to ride, or a boat if the journey had to be 
performed by water, arid the priest was not to be required 
to row in the boat. 

Great care was to be exercised in the carrying of the 
viaticum to the dying, and the priest was permitted to 
bring it in a little bag,* which was hung round the neck, 
when he had to traverse difficult mountain paths, or, as was 
often the case, places where no path existed. If the priest's 
vestments were worn out, they were to be burned in the 
church and the ashes placed under the altar. 

In the mixed chalice it was ordered that there should be 

* This was also permitted by Archbishop J0nmd. Council at 
Nidaros in 1290. 


more water than wine. This was to be done by the priest 
himself, and not the server. The rule was possibly intended 
to economize the wine, which, as we have already seen, was 
difficult to procure in some places. 

Rules were made to enforce morality among the laity, 
and marriage within the prohibited degrees was strictly 
forbidden. It would seem to have been customary for 
many of the people to live together after betrothal, before 
the regular marriage took place, but if children were born 
after the banns had been called, and before the marriage 
had been celebrated, they were to be taken as legitimate. 
The viaticum was not to be given to a frille, unless the 
man she lives with agrees to marry her, or she separates 
from him. No unmarried women were to be churched. 
Fresh regulations were made respecting the attendance of 
the clergy at diocesan synods. In a country so large, and 
so difficult to travel through in those days, it was hard for 
the priests to leave their parishes to attend the synods in 
the bishop's cathedral. It was arranged that the priests 
of the hoved kirker should nominate those who were to 
attend, and all parish priests were to be chosen in turn. 
Before the priest left his parish to attend the synod, he was to 
see that he left no infants unbaptized, or no one unconfessed 
or unhouseled. The priests who remained at home had to 
take charge of the parishes of those who went, and before 
the representative went to the synod, he was to announce 
who was to be left in charge. When on his way to the 
cathedral city, the priest in passing through a parish was 
liable to be called on to do duty, but could not demand any 
fee for the same. When he got home from the synod, he 
was to tell those who remained behind, what new decrees 
had been made.^ 

The dissatisfaction with the conduct of the king's mother, 

* For fuller details of the decrees of this council, see Norges Gamle 
Love, Vol. III., page 246 ; and Keyser, Vol. II., page 198. 


the Duchess Ingeborg, which had been felt from the first, 
grew stronger as the years passed, and the chiefs now saw that 
some steps must be taken to deprive her of all power in the 
affairs of the kingdom. In February, J323, a meeting was 
called at Oslo, at which the archbishop and the bishops of 
Hamar, Oslo, and Skaalholt were present. It was decided 
to ask the archbishop to select a man in whose care the 
kingdom should be placed. He chose Erling Vidkunss0n, 
a great chief of Bjark0, in Haalogaland. This choice was 
approved by a Thing at Oslo, and all the chief men pro- 
mised to support him. Erling was known as the Drotsete 
of which title, perhaps, the best translation would be lord 
protector, or lord high constable and for nine years he 
ruled the country in the king's name with great wisdom 
and moderation. The object of his appointment was to get 
rid of the Duchess Ingeborg, and in this it was successful. 
She remained in Norway for a short time, but deprived of 
the power she formerly possessed, and in 1327 marrying 
Ejnut Porse, who had been made Duke of Sondre Halland, 
she went to live in Denmark. She was left a widow a 
second time in 1330, and after that remained principally 
in Denmark. 

The Drotsete was not to rule Norway without some 
troubles, for about the time of his appointment, the Eussians 
attacked Haalogaland and devastated a part of the country, 
including the Drotsete's own estate. The assailants were 
partly heathen and partly Greek Catholics, who were 
regarded as heretics by the popes. To repel this attack 
was therefore something of the nature of a crusade. The 
treasury of Norway was rather low at the time, after the 
extravagances of the Duchess Ingeborg, and the Drotsete 
felt anxious to obtain the necessary funds for the purpose. 
He therefore approached the Church in order to procure 
help. The wise and patriotic Archbishop Eiliv was willing 
to assist, but some of the other bishops were decidedly 


hostile to the proposal, especially Bishop Audfin of Bergen, 
with whom many controversies were carried on during his 
episcopate. There was much disputing about the matter, 
but nothing finally was decided at the time, as a peace with 
the Eussians was made, and the money was not therefore 
required. The point in dispute was, however, too important 
to be allowed to drop, and at a provincial council which 
was held in Bergen in 1327 it again came under discussion. 
Here Bishop Audfin came forward as the champion of those 
who wished the Church to be exempted from all payment 
of skat, and claimed that Archbishop Jon Raude's Kristenret, 
which would have exempted them from payment, should 
be approved. This, however, was firmly resisted by the 
Drotsete, and aided by the kindly moderation of the arch- 
bishop, wiser councils prevailed. The "Kristenret of Haakon 
the Old and Archbishop Sigurd " was held to be the law 
under which the Church was to be ruled. This was formu- 
lated in a proclamation or letter signed by the king, the 
Drotsete, and the chancellor, and the matter was finally 

The office of chancellor, which seems to have been in 
abeyance for some years, was now revived, and it was 
intended to be a compensation to the Church, by having 
such a high official (who was one of the clergy) in a post 
which had so much to do directly with the government of 
the kingdom. The new chancellor was Paul Baardss0n, a 
man of great learning, who had studied at Paris and Orleans 
and was learned in canon ]aw. He was first a member of 
the Bergen chapter, but was at this time in that of Nidaros, 
and afterwards, as we shall see, reached the highest post in 
the Church. 

On Easter Monday, April 4th, 1328, a great disaster 
befell Nidaros. The beautiful cathedral of Christ Church, 
the monument of the work of Archbishop Eystein and his 
immediate successors, was almost destroyed by fire. All 


the internal woodwork was burned, and the walls suffered, 
but not irreparably. The bells also were much injured. 
The archbishop sent out an appeal to all his suffragans, and 
to the principal men in Norway, for help in rebuilding the 
cathedral, which was liberally responded to. 

In 1332 the young king, having now reached his 
sixteenth year, assumed the nominal control of the govern- 
ment, and Erling Vidkunss0n, the Drotsete, resigned his 
post. He had discharged the rather difficult duties of his 
office with great skill, and his firm but prudent rule had 
secured peace to the land. After his retirement the 
chancellor, Paul Baardss0n, was the king's chief adviser. 
Paul was, however, not long to remain chancellor, for in 
November, 1332, Archbishop Eiliv died, having practically 
held the see for twenty -three years, though he was not 
consecrated until two years after his election. Eiliv was a 
man who was universally respected in Norway, and under 
his wise government the Church attained very great pros- 
perity in every respect. Though a strong Churchman 
he was not an intemperate advocate of her claims, and 
by his skilful pilotage he avoided many of the dangers 
which had so frequently caused strife between the Church 
and the State. He was too good a patriot not to recognize the 
injury which the fierce controversies of previous generations 
had done to Norway, as well, indeed, as to the Church over 
which he was called to rule. Paul Baardss0n was chosen 
as Eiliv's successor, and resigned his office as chancellor. 

In the year 1335 the young king married Blanche, or 
Blanca, as she was called in Norway, the daughter of the 
duke of Namur, a woman of great cleverness, who soon 
acquired a complete ascendency over her weak husband. 
The year following Magnus was crowned in Stockholm 
as king of Sweden. It is not easy to arrive at an exact 
estimate of the character of Magnus, for the Swedish writers 
paint him in very dark colours, and ascribe all kinds of 

C.S.N. R 


vice and immorality to him, and the name which was 
given to him of Smek, or the trifler, indicated that he had 
but small regard for the responsibilities of his office. But 
on the other hand, the Norwegian writers speak of him in 
a very different way, and some called him " The Good," and, 
we are told, after his death regarded him as almost a saint.* 
The truth probably lies between the two accounts, and it 
was the hostility between the two countries which, when 
one denounced the king as an evil-living trifler, caused the 
other to paint him as a good and saintly man. He was 
certainly not a strong king, and utterly unfitted to hold 
two kingdoms under his sceptre. 

Magnus's weak rule, and his continued absence in 
Sweden, led, as was only to be expected, to much discon- 
tent in Norway, which had been so long accustomed to its 
own king. To try and arrange matters the king called a 
meeting at Baahus in August, 1339, but nothing definite 
was arrived at. It was, however, settled that during the 
absence of Magnus in Sweden the archbishop and Bishop 
Haakon, of Bergen, were to look after the government of 
Norway, and with this, things were quiet for a time. 

The year 1343 was remarkable for the consecration of 
no less than six bishops in the province of Nidaros to fill up 
sees vacant by death or resignation. These were, Bergen 
and Stavanger, the two Icelandic bishoprics of Skaalholt and 
Hole, and Garde in Greenland. 

Notwithstanding the arrangements mentioned above, the 
discontent with Magnus burst forth again, and a strong 
party desired the separation of the kingdoms of Norway 
and Sweden. At a meeting at Vardberg, in Sweden, in 
1343, it was arranged that the king's two sons should 
succeed him at his death, the elder Erik, taking Sweden, 
and the younger Haakon, Norway. Both of them were at 
this time only children, but the arrangement seemed to 
* See Daae's Norges Helgener, page 188. 


promise (when it came into being) an end of the very 
unsatisfactory state of things which then prevailed. 

In 1346 Archbishop Paul died, having held the see for a 
little more than twelve years. There was no very impor- 
tant event to mark his episcopate. During the latter part 
of it, he issued a long pastoral letter to the clergy and 
people, in which he gave many directions respecting the 
observance of the Church's rules in connection with holy 
baptism, confirmation, confession, &c., which showed how 
carefully all these sacraments were at this time administered 
in the Norwegian Church. 

Paul's successor was Arne Einarss0n, who was one of the 
Nidaros chapter, and a nephew of Archbishop Eiliv. 

We have already noticed that though the political con- 
nection between Norway and the Western Isles of Scotland 
and the Isle of Man had practically ceased, yet for ecclesias- 
tical purposes the bishopric of Sodor and Man still remained 
a part of the province of Nidaros. About this time, how- 
ever, the ecclesiastical connection was also to 'come to an end, 
though nominally it continued for a considerably longer 

The last bishop of Sodor and Man who seems to have gone 
to Norway was Marcus, who was present at the coronation 
of King Erik in 1280. The bishops seem to have had 
a not unnatural objection to facing the dangers and dis- 
comforts, of the long voyage across the North Sea to Nidaros 
to receive consecration, and to have preferred the shorter 
journey to England, or the more interesting one to Avignon. 
In 1348, on the death of Bishop Thomas, William Russell, 
abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Rusheen, was chosen 
as his successor. Instead of going to Norway, he proceeded 
to Avignon, where he was consecrated by the cardinal 
bishop of Ostia. The reason for this was explained to the 
archbishop of Nidaros, by Pope Clement VI. , in a letter 
which he wrote the following year (April, 1349). In this 


he mentions that his action in having William Eussell 
consecrated was " by no means to be ascribed to any 
intention of the pope to detach the Sudreyan see from 
the Provincia Nidrosiensis, or to give any prejudice to 
his metropolitan rights, but only to the circumstance that 
this episcopate, as all others, or in general all ecclesias- 
tical benefices, had been reserved by the pope for his own 
provision."'* Thus, although nominally respecting the rights 
of the metropolitan of Nidaros over Sodor and Man, the 
pope's action practically put an end to them, and from this 
time onwards, no bishop of that see was consecrated at 
Nidaros. Still, for nearly a hundred years longer, Sodor 
and Man was officially regarded as a part of the Nidaros 

Magnus in 1348 attacked the Eussians as a sort of 
crusade, and gained some successes ; but on his retirement 
they overran Finland, and again attacked Haalogaland 
and Sweden, and this still more increased the hostility of 
the Swedes to the king. 

Archbishop Arne, following the example of his prede- 
cessor Paul, sent out another pastoral letter very much 
on the same lines as that of the latter, and with the same 
careful attention to details in the religious life of the people. 
There is no doubt that at this time the Church in Norway 
was in many ways an example to the other national 
Churches of Europe. Its remoteness had preserved it from 
many of the abuses and corruptions which at this time were 
manifesting themselves in other lands, and the constant 
succession of provincial councils which we have noted, 
were an evidence that the primates desired to maintain a 
high standard of life, both in the monastic establishments 
and among the secular clergy, even if the rules laid down 
were not strictly adhered to. But a great disaster was 

* See " Chronica Regum Manniae et Insular urn," edited by P. A. 
Munch, page 147; and Appendices 17 and 18. 


now to fall upon the land and to inflict a blow from which 
the Church never fully recovered, and which crippled its 
usefulness down to the day, when the avarice of the Danish 
kings and their courtiers, swept away most of its fabrics, 
confiscated its revenues, and broke the long line of the 
historic episcopate. 

In 1349 an English merchant ship sailed into the harbour 
of Bergen and brought to Norway the awful plague which 
had devastated so many European lands, and in an 
incredibly short time the Black Death (the dreaded Sorte 
D0d of Norway) swept the land from one end to the other. * 

Terrible as were the results of this visitation in England 
and other countries, they seem to have been even worse in 
Norway, and down even to the present day signs of its 
desolating progress may be traced. Many districts which 
are now but sparsely inhabited, were once (for Norway) 
thickly populated. Yalleys which in the olden days con- 
tained comfortable farms and patches of cultivated land, 
are now merely used for sceters, or dairy farms, to which for 
a few months the cattle and sheep are driven in the summer 
to feed on the rich pasture. 

The Norwegian annals are full of stories of this great 
disaster, and the imagination of the people depicted the 
plague as a terrible old witch, who went through the land 
bearing with her a rake and a broom ; where she raked 
some survived, where she swept with the broom none were 
left behind. It is estimated that more than a third of the 
population of the land died, and when the pestilence 
ceased there was no heart left in the people. In one 
valley, the great Jostedal (according to the legend which 
seems not to be improbable), every soul perished except 
one little girl, who, almost wild with terror, managed to 
support her life through the winter, and was discovered 

* Dr. A. L. Faye's Den Sorte D$d, contains much interesting infor- 
mation respecting the Black Death. 


the next summer by the people of Lorn, who crossed the 
mountains to see what had become of their neighbours. 
Her descendants again peopled the valley.* 

Even the very existence of churches was in some places 
forgotten, as all the inhabitants of the parish had been 
swept away."(" No district of Norway seems to have 

* A family tracing its descent directly from this girl, who was known 
as Jostedals Rypa (rypa, the ptarmigan), on account of her having been 
found like a wild bird, still live near Amble in Sogn. 

t A very remarkable instance of this is the case of the parish church 
of Hedal, not far from the northern end of the Spirillen lake, in Valders. 
The story of the recovery of this church in later years is a strange and 
interesting one : " Some centuries ago a man in pursuit of Ryper 
traversed one of these formerly inhabited, but now deserted, places. 
As he shot an arrow at a bird on one of the trees he heard a peculiar 
sound, as if the arrow had struck against something. Full of curiosity, 
he approached the place, where, to his astonishment, he came upon an 
old church. Mindful of the ancient idea that if it was a work of witch- 
craft it would immediately disappear if brought into proximity to steel, 
he seized his tinder-box and threw it over the church. On the spot 
where it fell, a farmhouse was afterwards built, which to the present 
day bears the name of Ildjernstad (the tinder-box place). After taking 
this precautionary measure he proceeded to investigate the church. 
The key stood in the church door, which was half open. In the middle 
of the floor stood a large bell, and at the foot of the altar a great bear 
had taken up its winter quarters. It was slain by the brave hunter, 
and its skin was hung up in the church as a memorial of this strange 
occurrence, where the remains of a large bear-skin are still to be seen. 
In the church he is said to have found, among other things, some 
pictures, a little brass shrine, four large bells and one small one. It 
was against one of these that the hunter's arrow had struck and pro- 
duced the sound which attracted his attention." (" A. Faye, Norske 
Folkesagn," quoted by Dietrichson, " Norske Stavkirker," page 354.) 

The little brass shrine, once used as a reliquary, is still preserved in 
the church, and is remarkable for its representation of the martyrdom 
of St. Thomas a Becket, of Canterbury. This interesting relic of the 
middle ages (see picture next page) is believed, on the best authority, 
to have been made about fifty years after the martyrdom, and is there- 
fore one of the very earliest, if not the earliest, representations of the 
murder of St. Thomas of Canterbury. It is worthy of note how the 
cult of " the holy blissful martyr " of Canterbury prevailed in Norway 

O 53 

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escaped the pestilence ; it stalked north, south, east, and 
west, and the memory of its desolating presence has never 
been effaced from the minds of the people. Other nations 
of Europe suffered from the same terrible plague, but they 
have forgotten it. The memory of it still survives among 
the b0nder of Norway. 

There was, however, one bright spot in the universal 
gloom which the plague spread over the land, and that was 
the heroic devotion of the bishops and clergy. None of 
them seem to have flinched from the post of duty and 
danger. Through it all, they stood firm and ministered to 
the sick and dying, but the price paid was a terrible one. 
The archbishop and every bishop in Norway died of the 
plague, with the sole exception of Salomon of Oslo. In 
Bergen in one day eighty persons were buried at a single 
church, and among these were fourteen priests and six 
deacons. The chapter of Nidaros was almost entirely 
swept away, and the same thing happened in Bergen and 
other cathedrals. In Agder seven parishes were swept of 
their inhabitants. The bishop of Stavanger sent many 
priests and deacons to minister to the sick and suffering, 
and in a very short time all of these brave men fell victims 
to the plague. These terrible disasters filled the minds of 
the people with horror and remorse for their sins, and it 
was thought they were but a prelude to the Day of Judg- 
ment, which was everywhere expected in Norway in 1357. 

The plague began, in the natural course, to abate, and a 
special prayer which the pope is said to have written for 
the suffering people, as well as a special mass which was 
said, helped to comfort and reassure them.* 

during the middle ages. The famous church of St. Thomas of Canterbury, 
near Nystuen, on the Fille Fjeld, was only finally swept away in 1808. 

* In 1359, and again in 1371, terrible epidemics raged in Norway, 
which carried off many people, including, in 1371, Archbishop Olaf, 
who died at Oslo. 


It is easy to understand what a terrible blow this 
desolating pestilence proved to the Church in Norway. 
All its best and wisest men were carried away, and the 
ranks of the clergy were most terribly thinned, and no 
suitable men left to take the vacant posts. The Nidaros 
chapter had only one member left, and the pope nominated 
Olaf, abbot of Nidarholm, to the vacant see. In this instance 
the pope made use, for the second time at Nidaros, of the 
power which the papacy claimed of appointing to vacant 
sees per provisionem, and overriding the rights of the 
chapters. There were, of course, cases in which this might 
manifestly be for the benefit of the Church, as, for example, 
where, from disputes or other causes, there was an unreason- 
able delay in filling up vacancies. In the case of Archbishop 
Olaf it was a very wise step, but the papacy did not confine 
the exercise of its power to such instances, but proceeded 
in many cases to deliberately overrule the decisions of the 
chapters and appoint its own nominees to vacant sees. 
Another instance of this happened on the death of Bishop 
Salomon of Oslo (the only survivor of the Black Death 
among the bishops), who died in 1351. After his death 
the chapter chose Gyrd, one of their number, and he was 
consecrated by Archbishop Olaf ; but the pope declined to 
recognize him, and appointed Sigfrid, or Sigurd, bishop of 
Sfavanger, who was in Rome at the time. The canonically- 
chosen bishop gave up his post, but, Clement VI. dying soon 
after, his successor, Innocent VI., appointed Gyrd to the 
see of Stavanger. 

The new archbishop at once set to work to try and 
reorganize the shattered Church. To fill up the many 
vacancies, it was absolutely necessary to lower the canonical 
age for ordination, and many lads of eighteen years of age 
were put in charge of parishes. These young men had, of 
course, neither the learning nor experience needed for the 
posts which they held, and many abuses soon manifested 


themselves. Their lives and conversation were very much 
below the standard of upright living which had charac- 
terized their predecessors, and for a time at any rate there 
was a great declension in the state of the spiritual 
life of the Church. The archbishop called together a 
council at Nidaros in August, 1351. At this many of 
the older regulations were renewed and new ones added to 
cope with the state of things then existing. It was 
especially enjoined on the clergy the necessity of leading 
clean and pure lives and of avoiding being mixed up in 
quarrels among their people. The old regulations respecting 
the fritter were again re-enacted, and great abhorrence was 
expressed that some of the clergy had regularly and openly 
taken fritter, and had had public betrothals to them. 
Although, on paper, the laws always existed, yet we know 
that down to the Reformation, from the time of the Sorte 
D0d, these regulations were never enforced, but that the 
clergy continued to contract these irregular unions, and 
that it was practically acquiesced in by their superiors, who 
in many cases, if we are to believe Theodore of Niem, them- 
selves had their f filler as well as the parochial clergy ! 

A wise provision of the council was that the older clergy, 
who had survived the plague, should instruct the new and 
untried ones in all matters pertaining to the right and 
proper performance of the Church's offices. 

The new prelates strove, as far as they could, to remedy 
the state of things which they found around them as the 
result of the Black Death, but it was a long time indeed 
before matters were finally reduced to order, and the revival 
of religious life was again checked, by the desolations which 
accompanied the break with Rome, under the Danish kings, 
in the early part of the sixteenth century. 

If ecclesiastical affairs in Norway at this time were in an 
unsatisfactory state, things were no better as regards 
temporal matters. The feeble King Magnus's unpopularity, 


caused largely by his continued absences from the country, 
increased year by year. It will be remembered that he had 
arranged that his second son, Haakon, was to have the 
kingdom of Norway, but Haakon was still a child. In 
1350 Magnus was in Bergen, and seems to have agreed to 
nominate as " drotsete " Orm Eysteinss0n, who practically 
ruled the country for five years, until 1355, when young 
Haakon was declared of age and took over, nominally, the 
government of the kingdom. Magnus now remained king 
only of Sweden. His other son, Erik, who had been 
brought up in that country, was not on good terms with his 
father, chiefly on account of Magnus's favourite, Benedict 
Algotss0n, whom he imagined, his father wished to make 
his heir. An arrangement was made, however, in 1357 by 
which Erik and Magnus divided Sweden, but the peace did 
not last long. Erik suspected, with apparently good reason, 
that his father was intriguing with the Danish king 
Valdemar against him. In 1359 young Haakon of 
Norway was betrothed to Margaret, Valdemar's daughter 
(afterwards the famous queen), and the marriage took place 
in 1363. 

In 1359 Erik of Sweden died suddenly at the age of 
twenty-two years, supposed to have been poisoned,* and 
his wife and two children died soon afterwards. Magnus 
thereupon resumed the government of Sweden, and 
Valdemar attacked and conquered the district of Skaane. 
The Swedish chiefs were very furious with Magnus on 
account of what they believed to be his secret compact with 
the Danish king, and in 1363 they offered the crown to 
Albrekt of Mecklenburg, son of Euphemia, Magnus's sister. 
Albrekt accepted the offer and went to Stockholm. But 
Haakon came to his father's assistance, and there was much 

* According to another account, he was carried off with his young 
wife and infant twin children, by the visitation of barnekopper (small- 
pox), which visited the north in 1359 60. 


hard fighting. At Enkjdbing a battle (March, 1365) was 
fought, in which Magnus was taken prisoner and Haakou 
wounded. The war continued with varying successes, until 
at last, in 1371, an agreement was made by which Magnus 
was set at liberty. Magnus was to have the revenues of 
some Swedish provinces and to bear the title of king during 
his life ; Haakon renounced on his part, his claim to Sweden, 
and left the government to Albrekt. Magnus did not long 
survive this peace ; he was drowned while crossing the open 
Bommel Fjord, to the north of Stavanger, in December, 
1374, and thus ended his long and inglorious reign of fifty- 
five years. 


Queen Margaret gains Denmark for her son Olaf The Pope appoints 
Nicholas Ruser Archbishop Erik of Pomerania chosen King The 
Union of Kalmar Bishop Eystein Aslakss0n of Oslo His Mission 
to London History of St. Birgitta The Order of the Saviour 
The State of the Norwegian Church as recorded by Theodore of 

DURING the concluding years of the fourteenth century 
the history of the Church in Norway does not present any 
special features of interest. It had not recovered from the 
shock of the disasters of 1349 50, and in 1371 another 
outbreak of plague still further paralyzed its powers. The 
energetic Archbishop Olaf, who had done his best to revive 
life in his diocese and province, fell a victim to the plague 
in 1371. He was succeeded by a man named Thrond, 
about whom practically nothing is known. It will give 
some idea to what a low ebb the Church had been reduced 
by the Black Death when we are told that in the diocese of 
Nidaros, Archbishop Thrond found only forty priests (old 
and feeble), where formerly there were three hundred ! In 
the Bergen diocese there was only one priest to every three 
or four churches, and when the enormous extent of most 
parishes in Norway is borne in mind, the wonder only is that 
there was any religion left in the country. There is no 
doubt that a very great falling-off in the religious life of 
the people, was the result of the lack of a properly instructed 
priesthood. Even in the towns this was noticeable, and 
the energetic Bishop Jakob of Bergen, in a pastoral which 
he issued in 1390 to that city, paints in very dark colours 


the state of morals then prevailing, and set himself 
vigorously to remedy these evils. 

King Haakon, who after his father Magnus's death, was 
the sole king in Norway, had a son, Olaf, born to him in 
1371, and in 1375 Yaldemar Atterdag of Denmark died 
without leaving any male issue. Queen Margaret at once 
claimed the Danish crown for her infant son, although she 
was not the eldest daughter of Yaldemar. The question of 
the election of a new Danish king came before the diet at 
Odense, but the adherents of Ingeborg, duchess of Meck- 
lenburg, Margaret's elder sister, attended in force, and the 
decision was postponed. Meanwhile Margaret did much to 
ingratiate herself with the most influential men in Denmark, 
especially among the clergy, and the result was that at 
another gathering, held at Slagelsee in 1376, her son Olaf 
was chosen as king, and his mother was entrusted with the 
government on his behalf. King Haakon did not live long 
after this triumph of his energetic queen, but died at Oslo 
in 1380. The year following Margaret and Olaf came to 
Norway, where the latter was accepted as king at Nidaros, 
and a " drotsete " appointed to govern the country during 
the absence of the young monarch and his mother. Queen 
Margaret was now making her power felt in both Denmark 
and Norway, and her ambitious design of uniting the three 
Scandinavian kingdoms under one sovereign, became more 
apparent. But it was not only in the State, but in the 
Church as well, that she desired to place in office, those who 
would carry out her will. A very curious incident occurred 
at this time in the Norwegian Church which showed that the 
queen's influence was no less powerful with the Koman 
curia than in Denmark or Norway. 

In 1381 Archbishop Thrond died, and the Nidaros 
chapter elected Haakon Ivarss0n as his successor. He 
started for Home in order to be consecrated in 1382, but 
had only got as far as Germany, when he learned to his 


astonishment that the pope had already selected and con- 
secrated an archbishop for Nidaros in defiance of the 
chapter's election of himself. This was one Nicholas Ruser, 
or Rusare, a man of a noble Danish or German family, who 
had been in favour with Valdemar, the late king, and also 
with Queen Margaret. It seems very probable that this 
man was not originally in holy orders at all. It was true 
he had been a canon of Roskilde, but this did not necessarily 
imply that he was in orders, as such posts were sometimes 
given to laymen as a reward for services rendered to the 
Crown. * It is clear, however, that Archbishop Nicholas 
arrived in Denmark fully invested with papal authority in 
1382, and was welcomed by the queen. In confirmation of 
the opinion, which many in his day held, that he was merely 
a layman, it may be noted that he never exercised any 
episcopal powers. He never consecrated any bishops, or 
performed any other duties of his office, except to preside 
at a council which was held at T0nsberg in 1383, but this 
was not an exclusively ecclesiastical gathering. One thing, 
however, he did do. He went to Nidaros and helped him- 
self to many of the treasures of the see, and with these he 
retired to Denmark, where, fortunately for the Church, he 
died in 1386. 

King Olaf died in 1387, at the early age of seventeen, 
and there was now no direct heir to the kingdom of 
Norway. Queen Margaret, however, was determined not 
to lose her grasp of the royal authority. She was accepted 
as regent of Denmark the same year, and in 1388 of 
Norway as well, but the Norwegians would not accept a 
woman as their Sovereign. Margaret had, however, a 
candidate for the vacant throne in the person of Erik of 
Pomerania, then a child only six years old. Erik was 

* Bp. Bang, in his Udsigt over den Nor sice Kirkes Historic, makes 
this point clear, as against Keyser's assumption that the possession of 
a canon 17 implied being in holy orders. 


Margaret's grandnephew, his mother being Marie, the 
daughter of Margaret's sister Ingeborg, who married Henry 
of Mecklenburg. This prince was nephew of Magnus 
Erikss0n, and great-grandson of Haakon V. * Though Erik 
was so remotely connected with the royal house of Norway, 
he was accepted as king through the influence of Queen 
Margaret, who was thus enabled to maintain her rule over 
the kingdom and to carry on the government in young 
Erik's name. 

Margaret had now the complete control of two of the 
Scandinavian kingdoms, and she determined to add Sweden 
to the number, and to unite them all under one sceptre. 
She soon found an opportunity, as King Albrekt had 
grown very unpopular with his people, chiefly on account 
of his partiality for his German friends. With her usual 
diplomacy, Margaret skilfully availed herself of this, to stir 
up the Swedish magnates against their king, and she so 
far succeeded that in May 1388, a number of the chiefs 
formally declared themselves on her side. This at once 
led to an open rupture, and both parties took up arms, 
and the result was that the next year, 1389, King Albrekt 
was utterly defeated, and taken prisoner, at Falk0ping and 
carried to Denmark. 

There was still some resistance on behalf of Albrekt by 
the Germans, who held Stockholm, and were supported by 
the Hanseatic towns of Rostock and Wismar, and they 
encouraged privateers, known as the Vitalie-br0dre y '\ to 
harry the Norwegian coast, in the course of which they 
burnt the city of Bergen. The struggle continued for 

* See genealogical table. 

f The Vitalie-br+dn (brethren) were a kind of joint-stock company 
formed for bringing provisions to the Germans in Sweden ; from their 
supplying them with victuals they received their name ; and from being 
harmless provision merchants, they ended by becoming dangerous 


some years longer, and at last the imprisoned king Albrekt, 
having failed to pay the ransom demanded of him, was 
obliged to surrender Stockholm, and, being set free, retired 
with his son to Germany. 

Queen Margaret had now gained all the three kingdoms. 
In 1396 she had secured the kingdom of Denmark for 
Erik, and later in the same year he was chosen king of 
Sweden. Thus for the first time Norway, Sweden, and 
Denmark were united under one king. On Trinity Sunday, 
June 17th, 1397, young Erik was solemnly invested with 
the crown of the three kingdoms at Kalmar. 

At this time the famous union of Kalmar was formed, and 
a constitution was promulgated under which it was to be 
maintained. The principal points of this important agree- 
ment were as follows : 

(1) The three kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Den- 
mark were in future always to remain united under one 

(2) The king should be chosen by all three kingdoms. 
If the deceased king left sons, one of them was to be 
selected, but if there was no issue, the representatives of 
the kingdoms were to select the best man they could find. 

(3) The three kingdoms were to be united in all foreign 
matters, but under their own laws, &c., with respect to 
domestic affairs. 

(4) If any one country was attacked, the others were 
to help it, but at the charges of the former. 

This triple alliance of the kingdoms of Scandinavia 
seemed to promise well for the future peace of the North ; 
and had there been a strong man upon the throne, or a 
succession of wise and prudent kings, it would doubtless 
have led to very important consequences. Erik was, how- 
ever, a mere cypher, and when the strong-minded Margaret 
passed away, the jealousies and quarrels between different 
nations, and the ambition of the Danish kings, soon broke 


up the union, leaving only Denmark and Norway united, the 
latter country soon to become a mere province of Denmark, 
and practically bereft of national life, until the beginning of 
the nineteenth century saw its revival once more. 

From this necessary digression, into the political history 
of the countries under Margaret's rule, we must return to 
ecclesiastical affairs in Norway at the end of the fourteenth 

Nicholas Ruser's successor in the primacy was Vinalde 
Henrikss0n. He was probably a Swede by birth, but had 
lived all his life in Norway, and had been " Magister 
capellarum regis " and keeper of the royal seal. He was 
consecrated in 1887, and got back to Norway the same 
year. He was a good man, but his activity was manifested 
chiefly in political matters, in which he took a very leading 
part as a supporter of Queen Margaret. He died in 1402. 
A more prominent ecclesiastic of this period was Bishop 
Eystein Aslakss0n of Oslo (1386 1407), who has left a 
remarkable inventory of the property of the Church in his 
diocese, which was known as "The Red Book/' so called 
from the colour of its binding. He issued also a pastoral 
letter with respect to the state of the Church in the 
Telemark, which was at that time, and for centuries after, 
a remote and very turbulent district, where the authority 
of both Church and State was but lightly regarded, and 
where tithes were but seldom or ever paid. It throws a 
remarkable light on the life of the people at that period, 
and shows the difficulties with which the clergy had 
to contend, amongst their very fierce and quarrelsome 

One interesting fact concerning this bishop is worthy 
of notice. When the Norwegian bishops left their sees it 
was, as a rule, to visit one of the Scandinavian kingdoms, 
or to go to Rome, on matters directly connected with the 
affairs of the Church in Norway. Bishop Eystein Aslakss0n 

C.S.N. S 


was, however, an exception to this rule, and paid a visit 
to England in 1405. After the death of her son Olaf, Queen 
Margaret, on her grand-nephew Erik having been accepted 
as king, decided to procure an English consort for him, and 
negotiations were opened with the English court in order to 
obtain the hand of the Princess Philippa, the daughter of 
Henry IV., for Erik. Six envoys were selected for the 
purpose, and Bishop Eystein was placed at the head of the 
mission. They met at J0nk0ping in November, 1404, but 
were prevented by bad weather from setting out until the 
spring of the following year, when they safely reached 
London, where the bishop was lodged "with one John 
Scrivener, of Fleet Street."* The efforts of the mission 
were crowned with success, and the marriage of Erik and 
the English princess was celebrated by proxy on November 
26th, 1405. The Norwegian bishop proved himself very 
acceptable to the English court, and had the honour of 
being invited to preach in Latin before Henry IV., which 
he did, and his eloquence was much admired. 

During his stay in England he visited St. Albans, where 
he charmed the monks with his knowledge of their patron 
saint, to whom the famous cloister at Selje was dedicated. 

The latter part of the fourteenth century saw the founda- 
tion of a new religious order, the only one to which the 
North gave birth the famous order of the Holy Saviour, 
which was due to that most remarkable woman St. Birgitta.f 

Britta, or Birgitta, was born in the year 1303 or 1304. 
Her father was Birger Pederson, the "lagman" of Finstad, in 
Sweden, and her mother Ingeborg Bengtsdatter, of Ulfaasa. 
Both parents belonged to well-known families, and her 
mother was connected with the Swedish royal line. 
From her earliest childhood she seems to have manifested a 

* See Wylie's "History of England under Henry IV.," passim. 
t One of the most recent accounts of the life of St. Birgitta is 
"Den Hellige Birgitta," by A. Brinkmann, Copenhagen, 1893. 


very devout and mystical frame of mind, and even at eight 
years of age is said to have had visions. 

At thirteen she was married to Ulf Gudmarson, who was 
himself only five years older than his very youthful bride. 
The marriage turned out to be in every way a happy one, 
as Ulf was of a very similar disposition to his wife. Their 
family consisted of four sons and four daughters, one of 
whom was afterwards the famous St. Katharine of Sweden. 
About the year 1340 Birgitta and her husband went on a 
pilgrimage to the far-famed shrine of St. James of Compos- 
tella. On the way back he fell very ill in Flanders, and on 
his recovery vowed (with Birgitta's approval) to renounce 
the world, and enter upon a religious life. This he did and 
joined the monastery of Alvastra, but he did not long 
survive, and died in 1344. 

It would seem that it was at this time, that the natural 
mysticism of Birgitta's mind became much more marked, 
and she began to have those wonderful visions and revela- 
tions which afterwards led to the establishment of the 
order which bears her name. 

On account of her high rank she was attached for a time 
to the suite of Blanche of Namur, the wife of King Magnus 
Erikss0n, who seems to have treated his saintly relative with 
but very scant courtesy. During this time she was disturbed 
by the continued wars between France and England, and 
is reported to have said : " If the king of England will not 
observe the Divine plan he will prosper in none of his 
transactions, and will end his life in pain and leave his 
kingdom and his children in tribulation and anguish. His 
family will set themselves against each other and cause a 
confusion all will wonder at.""* Was the miserable death 
of Richard II. and the struggles between the houses of 
York and Lancaster, the fulfilment of this prophecy ? 
After her widowhood, and finding the residence in the 

* Butler, " Acta Sanctorum." 



court very distasteful, she retired to her own home, and in 
1346 she finally left Sweden for the south. Her natural 
instinct led her to Eome, where, like many another before 
and after her, she hoped to find " the streets paved with 
imperishable gold the blood of the holy martyrs and 
where through the merits of the saints and the absolution 
of the pope, the speediest way to heaven was to be found." 
Visits to various shrines filled up some time, and then, like 
her sainted contemporary, Catharine of Siena, she did her 
best to make the Avignon pope, Urban V., return to Rome, 
which he did at length in April, 1367, in spite of the opposi- 
tion of the French cardinals. But a short time sufficed for 
Urban, and he decided to return to his native land in 1370. 
Birgitta, however, declared that the Blessed Virgin had 
revealed it to her, that if he went back he should die, and 
strangely enough her words proved true. Urban V. died 
within two months of his return to Avignon, and the fame 
of Birgitta grew more and more. 5 * In 1372, accompanied 
by two of her sons and her daughter Katharine, she went 
on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the holy places of 
Palestine, and returned to Eome the next year, where she 
died on July 23rd, 1373. 

Birgitta was much reverenced for her sanctity throughout 
Europe. The remarkable " Revelationes St. Birgittse " have 
been collected, and contain an extraordinary series of " for 
the most part mystic rhapsodies, visions of the Saviour and 
the Virgin, full of strange pious allegory."! St. Birgitta in 
many ways, closely resembled her more widely known con- 
temporary Catharine of Siena, especially in the way in which 

* The election of Urban's successor, Gregory XL, at first filled 
Birgitta with much joy, as she hoped that he would finally end the 
papal residence at Avignon. Gregory, however, temporized, and said 
that there were difficulties in so doing while the war between France 
and England continued. He received her admonitions with pious 
inactivity and professed great gratitude for them. 

t Milman, " History of Latin Christianity," Vol. VIII. page 27. 


she believed the revelations were directly given to her by 
our Lord Himself, and that it was by His direct command 
that she founded the order, and from Him received the 
details as to its constitution. 

In 1391, at the request of King Erik, the pope, Boniface 
IX., canonized her on October 7th, which was afterwards 
observed as her day in the calendar. The order of the 
Holy Saviour quickly spread over the North. The plans 
for it she had drawn up before she left Sweden for Italy, 
and submitted them to Pope Urban V. who approved of 
her idea and sanctioned the establishment of the order in 
August, 1370. 

Birgitta selected Vadstena, on lake Vettern, as the home 
of the order, and began the building of the cloister, and 
from this spot it spread, the Abbess of Vadstena being 
the head of the whole community. 

A remarkable feature of this new order was the fact that 
both monks and nuns lived in the one establishment, but, 
of course, in their own separate parts of it. 

Each cloister of the order consisted of sixty nuns (sorores), 
thirteen priest-monks (fratres presbyteri), four deacons 
(fratres diaconi), and eight lay brothers (fratres laid). 

The thirteen priests were to represent the thirteen 
Apostles i.e., in eluding St. Paul the four deacons, the four 
fathers of the Church. The sixty nuns, four deacons, and 
eight lay brothers were intended to represent our Lord and 
his first disciples. The abbess was to rule all, and to 
represent the Blessed Virgin. The nuns were the real 
core and centre of the cloister, and the monks were merely 
added to perform the Church services and to manage its 
secular affairs. Every church contained thirteen altars. 
One priest was chosen as confessor generalis, who acted as 
secretary and adviser of the abbess.^ 

The body of Birgitta was brought from Eome to 
* Lange's Norske Klostres Historic, pages 53 et seq. 


Vadstena, where it now rests, along with that of her 
daughter, St. Katharine of Sweden. 

In spite of the revival of Church life in the North, of 
which the new Order of the Saviour was an evidence, there 
is unfortunately but little doubt that the ordinary religious 
life of the people was at a very low ebb at the end of the 
fourteenth century. The terrible visitations of the Black 
Death and the other plagues which followed, brought about 
the usual results which such disasters have produced in 
different lands. There were those who, like many in days 
when pestilence raged, plunged only deeper into dissipation, 
and sought to drown the thoughts of death and judgment, 
in carousing and debauchery. On the other hand, there 
were others who turned to the opposite extreme, and whose 
religion became a sort of fanatical mysticism, and lost that 
practical form which manifests itself in a " godly, righteous, 
and sober life." 

Norway, bereft by the plague, of priests whose "lips should 
keep knowledge," and having only young and ignorant men, 
who ministered in the priest's office, soon fell away from the 
high standard which had been maintained in former gene- 

We have preserved to us an account of the condition of 
the Church in Norway at the close of the fourteenth century 
from the pen of the well-known Theodore of Niem, who was 
bishop of Verden, afterwards archbishop of Cambray, and 
who died there in 1417.* 

In his account of the state of the Church in the North of 
Europe he says, speaking of Norway : t 

" The clergy here are, as a rule, poor in dress and 

* Theodore, or Dietrich, was probably born early in the 14th century. 
He was employed in the papal curia, where he was "abbreviator and 
scriptor " under Urban VI. His " Nemus Unionis " is a large work 
dealing with schism, printed at Basle, 1566. The most recent Life of 
Theodore is that by Georg Erler, " Dietrich von Nieheim." 

t " Nemus Unionis," Chapter xxxv. 


adornments, and perform the Divine service with few cere- 
monies and no solemnity. Neither are they to any great 
degree imbued with liberal arts or other sciences. But from 
habit or custom in Norway, both clergy and laymen drink 
equally hard, and if any one cannot drink himself drunk 
in beer beyond all measure, he considers himself to be very 
unhappy. They challenge one another to drinking bouts, 
and no one who had not seen it, can imagine how much 
both sexes can drink at a time, and they continue at this 
until they fall to the ground in a state of intoxication. 
Whoever is best able to empty his cups is considered to 
have beaten the others in bodily strength and vigour. 

"In these places (Ireland and Norway) it is permitted 
to bishops and clergy publicly to keep concubines, and 
when the bishop twice a year visits his diocese he brings 
his beloved one with him to the houses of the priests. The 
concubine herself would not allow her episcopal lover to 
go on these visitations without her, partly because he fares 
sumptuously with the priests, and into th'e bargain receives 
gifts from those who are visited, and partly also because she 
wishes to look after her lover, lest he should fall in love with 
another who should be better looking, and so do an injury 
to her. 

" If by chance any of the priests who are being visited have 
no concubines, they are looked upon as traitors to the in- 
herited custom, and have to give the visiting bishop double 
hospitality. And so it is the custom that in these countries 
the priest's concubine, or wife, should have precedence and 
rank in Church and at table, in walking and in sitting, 
and standing before other women, even the wives of 

It is not easy to say exactly, how much truth there is in 
this very unfavourable account of the bishops and priests 
of Norway ; but it is more than probable that it was very 
grossly exaggerated, and that Theodore wrote about matters 


of which he appears to have had no personal knowledge, as 
he never seems to have visited Norway. It is very 
doubtful if the bishops, surrounded as they were by many 
of the regular clergy, who would only have been too ready to 
report their faults to Borne, would have thus dared so openly 
to set canon law at defiance. We have plenty of evidence 
as to the way in which they attempted to prevent the priests 
contracting these unions, which, though forbidden by the 
Church's law, were yet quite in accordance with the law of 
the land, and as such recognized by the priests. Theodore 
was scarcely in a position to criticize too severely the morality 
of the Norwegian bishops, and his virtuous indignation 
merely expended itself in words, which were not exactly 
in accordance with his actions. In an inventory of the 
various possessions bestowed on him by the Koman curia, 
Cecchus casually mentions (without wishing to cast any 
reproach on Theodore's morality) a house as that which his 
concubine inhabited ! * But the description of the drunken- 
ness of both priest and people is a sad and probably true 
one, and rendered all the more sad when contrasted with 
the picture drawn some centuries before by a much greater 
writer, Adam of Bremen. 

* " Dietrich von Nieheim," p. 406. 


Condition of the Church Erik's Ecclesiastical Policy Action of the 
Scandinavian Prelates in the Great Schism Aslak Bolt, Arch- 
bishop His Work for the Church Council at Oslo Denmark 
and Sweden reject Erik Norway follows and Elects Kristofer 
Short Reign and Death of Kristofer (1448). 

THOUGH the state of the Norwegian Church at the close 
of the fourteenth century was far from being a satisfactory 
one, still it certainly did not altogether deserve the severe 
strictures of the future archbishop of Cambray. It is 
possible, indeed, that, in some respects, it might even have 
contrasted favourably with the condition of some of the 
other national Churches at that particular period, but it 
had undoubtedly fallen away from the very high standard 
of life and morals, for which it had been remarkable in the 
earlier days. There were, however, evidences of a revival 
of Church life, such as the newly-established Order of the 
Holy Saviour, which soon found a home for itself in 
Norway as well as in Sweden, and the rules of this new 
order made the preaching of the Gospel, in the language 
" understanded of the people," one of its most prominent 
features. Had the times been more favourable, the revival 
might have progressed and the Church of Norway regained 
the ground it had lost by reason of the Black Death. The 
political conditions, however, reacted unfavourably on it, 
because the Government of Margaret and Erik made use 
of all the important ecclesiastical posts to serve its own 
purposes, and so checked and stunted the growth and 


development of the Church's life. The highest offices were 
bestowed as rewards for political services. 

We find, therefore, that a very considerable number of 
Danes and Swedes were preferred to the vacant sees and 
canonries in Norway, to the exclusion of the native Norwe- 
gian clergy. This was not necessarily in itself a bad thing, 
as the infusion of new blood might have helped in a great 
measure to revive the life of the Church, at a time when it 
was at such a low ebb. But the men who were appointed 
were not, as a rule, of a type likely to advance the 
prosperity of the Church. 

Nicholas Euser, for example, was hardly the kind of 
archbishop to whom we might look for any develop- 
ment of religious life in his province, and his sole aim 
during his brief tenure of the seat of E}^stein, seems 
to have been his own personal aggrandisement, and, 
having accomplished that, he spent the rest of his life in 
Denmark. These foreign prelates never seem even to have 
attempted to win the regard of their clergy and people. 
Many of them were cordially hated in their dioceses, and 
their oppressions and exactions helped to fan the fire of 
discontent which was smouldering in Norway.* 

Archbishop Yinalde Henrikss0n died in 1402, and his 
successor was Askell, or Eskill, who was a native Norwegian. 
His episcopate, which lasted until 1428, was entirely 
uneventful. He was not consecrated until 1404. 

The Norwegian bishops were, of course, summoned to 
the Council of Pisa (1409), but none of them went to 
it. At the beginning of the great schism in the papacy 
(1378) the Norwegian Church supported Urban VI. and 
his side. When at the Council of Pisa the confusion in 
the Church was made still worse by the appointment of a 

* The policy of Margaret and Erik was very like that of the English 
Government towards the Irish Church in the eighteenth and early years 
of the nineteenth century. 


third pope, the allegiance of the North seems to have 
been divided. At first Queen Margaret and Erik, with the 
clergy generally, in Sweden and Denmark, and presumably 
Norway (though we have no certain information), main- 
tained the cause of Gregory XII. Some of the Swedish 
bishops and chapters gave their support to Alexander V., 
and eventually the queen and King Erik, and the bishops 
and clergy of the three kingdoms, took the same course. 

In 1412 the great Queen Margaret passed away, having 
for almost forty years practically guided the destinies of 
Norway and Denmark, and for a somewhat shorter period 
of Sweden as well. She had been to Flensborg, in Jylland, 
and had gone on board her ship to return home, when she 
was suddenly seized with illness, and expired on October 
28th at the age of sixty. 

Margaret is undoubtedly the most remarkable woman 
we meet with in the history of Norway. The daughter of 
Valdemar " Atterdag," * with whose accession a new era of 
life and prosperity began to dawn upon Denmark, after a 
long period of national disaster and internal strife, she 
inherited many of the characteristics of her father ; her 
ambition was boundless, and she never hesitated as to the 
means which she used to compass her ends. She knew 
more of statecraft than any of the monarchs with whom 
she came in contact, and there can be no doubt that 
at Kalmar she laid the foundation of a scheme, which 
only wanted capable men to direct it, and might have 
materially altered the history of the North of Europe. 

Whilst we cannot fail to admire her great genius, it is 
impossible to shut our eyes to her overweening ambition 
and love of power both in Church and State. It was her 

* He probably received the name of " Atterdag " (the new day) from 
this fact. Other explanations of the name are given, such as his usual 
adage, " To-morrow we shall have a day again" ; or his frequent use of 
the German expression of surprise, " der Tage ! " 


father's opinion that Nature had made a mistake in her 
case she should have been a man, and not a woman ; and, 
indeed, she it was who played the man, whilst her feeble 
husband and most of the other chiefs in her day, were but 
as puppets in her hands. The greatness of her personal 
power can be seen by the way in which, as soon as she 
died, the fabric she had built up with such skill began to 
crumble to the ground. 

The queen's body was not taken from her native land. 
She was buried in the great cathedral of Koskilde, the 
Westminster of Denmark. There, just behind the high 
altar, a white marble effigy marks the spot where, " after 
life's fitful fever," the great queen who had welded the 
three Scandinavian nations into one kingdom, sleeps her 
last sleep.* 

But now there came a temporary revival of the Church 
life in Norway under the rule of a new and energetic 
archbishop. In 1428 Archbishop Askell died, and the 
chapter chose as his successor Bishop Aslak Harniktss0n 
Bolt, of Bergen, to which see he had been consecrated in 
1408. It was not, however, until January 1430, that the 
pope agreed to permit his translation from Bergen to 
Nidaros. The new metropolitan was a man of a different 
stamp from his immediate predecessors. He was a strong 
man in every way, and though possessed of a rather violent 
temper, was admirably suited to the needs of the Church in 
his time. He was learned in the Scriptures and the canon 
law, and during his episcopate did much to raise the 
standard of religion in Norway. He was the first arch- 
bishop who acted as papal legate. 

As soon as his translation to Nidaros was accomplished, 
he set himself vigorously to work to improve the condition 

* Though we cannot fail to recognize the political genius of the queen, 
we may perhaps demur to the inscription on her tomb, " To the memory 
of that Princess whom posterity cannot honour beyond her merits." 


of the finances of the Church, and especially of his cathedral. 
A diligent visitation of his diocese, which was undertaken 
immediately after he went to Nidaros, revealed the fact 
that the old-established contributions authorized by the 
Kristenret had not been paid regularly. These had been 
granted for the support of the cathedral, and had cus- 
tomarily been paid either in money or in kind. They 
were known as the " Olaf's corn " and the " Michel's corn " ; 
the latter received its name from being paid at Michaelmas. 
The devastating fire at the cathedral, caused by lightning, in 
July, 1431, made the demand for these contributions 
specially opportune. Another instance of the archbishop's 
zeal is shown by the compilation about the year 1440 of an 
inventory of all the property of the Church in his diocese, 
which he caused to be made in the same way as the bishop 
of Oslo (Eystein Aslakss0n) had done fifty years before. 
The archbishop's inventory was known as Aslak Bolt's 
" Jordebog " (book of temporalities), and still survives.* 

It was in the first half of this century, that the Birgitta 
order began to spread in Norway, and the archbishop, when 
Bishop of Bergen, had introduced it into the country in con- 
junction with Stein, the abbot of the Benedictine cloister of 
Munkeliv, in Bergen. This monastery had purposely, it 
seemed, been allowed to become almost empty, and afforded 
an opportunity for converting it into a habitation for the 
new order (1426). This was approved by the head cloister 
of the order at Vadstena, in Sweden, in 1434, and it thus 

* The "Jordebog" was published in Christiania in 1852. It was 
edited by the late Professor P. A, Munch. In the introduction to the 
volume Professor Munch mentions the way in which this inventory 
survived. It was taken from Trondhjem, along with other archives, by 
the last archbishop, Olaf Engelbrektss0n, when he fled to Holland in 
1537. From thence it was carried to Heidelberg, and finally to 
Munich, where it remained until 1830, when a vast variety of 
documents relating to the three Scandinavian kingdoms, were restored 
to their respective countries. 


became the first establishment belonging to the new com- 
munity in Norway. 

Archbishop Aslak determined to revive the practice of 
holding provincial councils, which had been abandoned 
since the time of Archbishop Olaf ; but his first attempt in 
this direction was not very successful. In 1435 he sum- 
moned a council to meet in Bergen, but to his great 
chagrin none of his suffragans put in an appearance. The 
bishop of Bergen alone among the Norwegian prelates, had 
any legitimate excuse for being absent, as he was in Sweden 
on business for the king. The bishops of Hamar and Oslo, 
who were Danes and very unpopular, seem to have been 
the most obnoxious in this passive resistance to the arch- 
bishop's authority. Aslak, however, refrained from any 
open quarrel with them, but suspended the abbot of 
Halsn0 for his disobedience, and, in spite of the absence of 
the other bishops, proceeded with some legislative measures. 
Among others, laws were passed for the purpose of prevent- 
ing the begging monks collecting contributions without a 
licence from the bishop of the diocese. Though he had been 
to a very considerable extent thwarted in his plans for 
reform, the archbishop did not give up the intention of 
holding councils, and summoned another to meet at Oslo in 
December, 1436. 

Before this met, however, the discontent which had long 
existed in Norway, ended at last in open rebellion. King 
Erik had for many years ceased to visit that part of his 
dominions, and had not, it would seem, been there since 
1405. The administration of the law and collection of 
taxes, was entrusted by the king chiefly to Danes, who 
ground down the people, and whose exactions produced 
very bitter feelings. The increased taxation on account of 
the Slesvig war was also extremely unpopular. The 
centre of the discontent was in the diocese of Oslo, whose 
bishop, Jens, or Jon as he is called by some, was very much 


hated. Appeals were made to King Erik for justice, but 
they met with no response, and in the summer of 1436 the 
people rose in rebellion under Amund Sigurdss0n at 
T0nsberg. The king's men met the rebel leader, and a 
truce was arranged for a short time, but on the expiration 
of it Amund proceeded to Oslo, where he seized the bishop's 
palace, but was in his turn besieged there by the royal 
adherents. Finally a peace was made in December of 1436, 
and Amund was promised an amnesty for himself and his 

Immediately after this the provincial council called by 
the archbishop met on December 20th, and this time 
several of the bishops were present, but not the bishop of 
Oslo. The legislation of this council proceeded on the 
usual lines, and enforced various regulations which had 
been made at other like assemblies, regarding morals and 
discipline. The most important work, however, was an 
effort made by the archbishop to improve the learning of 
the native clergy, and so to take away the excuse of 
appointing foreigners to posts in Norway on the ground of 
their better education. To do this he appropriated a part 
of the tithe which the Kristenret gave to the poor an 
illegal proceeding doubtless, but one which the exigencies 
of the time seemed to demand. We may here mention 
that some sixteen years before this, the University of 
Eostock had been established, and from that time onwards 
the clergy of the three northern kingdoms who were 
educated abroad, chiefly studied there instead of in England 
or France, as had been the custom in the earlier days. This 
was not without its effect on the subsequent history. It 
largely helped to sever the close connection between the 
Churches of England and Norway, which had existed from 
the time of the first introduction of Christianity into the 
latter country. Henceforward Norway came under the 
influence of German thought and theology. If the old historic 


connection with England had been maintained, the results 
which followed the breach with Kome in the next century 
might have been different, and the Church in Norway 
have followed in the same course as that of England, 
and not have lost, with the historic episcopate, its place in 
the Catholic Church. 

The council at Oslo, before separating, called together a 
number of representatives from the discontented part of 
the country, and addressed once more, a strong appeal to 
the king to assert his authority, and to put away the abuses 
which were everywhere complained of. They seem to have 
been actuated by a spirit of great loyalty to their unworthy 
monarch, when the two other sister nations had rejected 
him, and were only anxious he should come and rule over 
them, with some of the old spirit which had marked his 
ancestors. But this appeal was practically useless. King 
Erik had had enough of his three troublesome kingdoms, 
and Denmark and Sweden had no wish to have him any 
longer. In 1437 he left Denmark and went to Gotland, 
thus practically abdicating, but taking no formal step. The 
Danes now offered the crown to Kristofer of Bavaria, 
Erik's nephew, the son of his sister Katharina, who had 
married John of Bavaria, and declared Erik deposed. The 
Swedes also deposed the king, and nominated Karl 
Knutss0n as governor of their country. 

Norway, however, still held to her lawful but worthless 
monarch, and actually attacked the Swedes on his behalf, 
but without any important result. 

Then the chiefs made one more appeal to Erik, and 
sent men to ask that he would appoint a " drotsete," which 
he did, and nominated Sigurd Jonss0n (1439). 

After this, when both Sweden and Denmark had accepted 
Kristofer as king (he was crowned at Upsala in September, 
1441), they wished Norway to join with them. Mean- 
while the Norwegians had held a meeting at Oslo, under 


the presidency of Archbishop Aslak, and decided to send 
once more to Erik, representing the state of the country, 
and intimating that if he could not do something they must 
abandon his cause. The ambassadors appointed never 
reached the king, as they were stopped in Denmark. One 
more appeal seems to have been made to Erik, but, like 
the others, it led to nothing. After this a meeting with the 
Swedes was held at Kalmar, but the question of the king 
was not decided. 

In 1442 the Norwegians finally abandoned Erik, and 
at a meeting held at L0d0se the archbishop and the 
Norwegian representatives agreed to accept Kristofer as 
their king, and he came to Norway in July of the same 
year, and was crowned at Oslo. 

Erik had reigned nominally for fifty- two years over 
Norway, though, as we have seen, he practically spent but 
little if any time in the country ; and in the early part of 
his life all the real power lay in the hands of Queen 
Margaret. After his deposition he continued to live for 
some years in his strong castle at Gotland, where he ex- 
hibited perhaps the only trace of his historic ancestry, by 
following the lucrative occupation of a sea rover. In 1449 
he retired to his domains in Pomerania, where, after another 
ten years, he died in 1459 at the age of 76. 

Kristofer's reign over Norway was of short duration, but 
under it the country settled down, after its disturbed state 
in the closing years of Erik's reign. The " drotsete " sur- 
rendered his office when the new king was crowned, and no 
events of importance, ecclesiastical or civil, have to be 
recorded. Kristofer died suddenly at Helsingborg in 1448, 
having been king of Norway for a little over five years. 
Though personally very popular from his genial nature, he 
was not the man to overcome the difficulties with which he 
was confronted. In Denmark he was entirely helpless to 
withstand the arrogance of the nobility, and in other parts of 

C.S.N. T 


his dominions, the Hanseatic league was too strong for 
him. Had he lived longer and proved a capable governor, 
many of the subsequent troubles of Norway might have 
been averted, and instead of a period of practical extinction 
of national life, which lasted for over three hundred and 
fifty years, Norway might have held a position of importance 
among the nations of Northern Europe. 

But this was not to be. "We have now to enter upon 
the dark period of the history of Norway in both Church 
and State, one marked by but few episodes to relieve the 
gloom which everywhere prevailed. When we think of it, 
we are filled with surprise that there was no one upon whom 
the spirit of the kings in the heroic days descended, who 
would go forth as a leader of men to free the Fatherland, 
and restore to it once more, that national life which in the 
earlier days had been so strong and vigorous. 



Circumstances which led to the Election of Kristian I. Bishop Jens of 
Oslo Karl of Sweden Crowned at Nidaros His Claim surrendered 
Council of Bergen The Church under Danish Rule Disputed 
Election at Nidaros on the Death of Aslak Bolt King Kristian 
and Marcellus The Papal Nominee Henrik Kalteisen, appointed 
Murder of Bishop Thorleif of Bergen Conflict over his Successor 
Olaf Throndss0n Archbishop Kristian agrees to the T0nsberg 
Concordat The Orkneys and Shetlands surrendered Foundation 
of Copenhagen University Hans succeeds Kristian The Halmstad 
Recess Hans defeated by the Ditmarskers Rebellion in Norway, 
1501 Duke Kristian Governor of Norway His Treatment of the 
Bishop of Hamar Erik Valkendorf, a Dane, Archbishop. 

THE death of Kristofer of Bavaria, and the events which 
followed, showed how feeble were the links which held 
the three nations together in the Kalmar union. The 
regular course on the death of the sovereign of the united 
kingdoms, would have been for the duly accredited repre- 
sentatives of each nationality to have met and chosen a 
successor, as the last monarch had left no heir. Instead of 
this, Sweden and Denmark set to work on their own 
account. It must be remembered that they were elective 
monarchies, while the crown in Norway, according to law, 
was hereditary. Kristofer died in January, 1448, and in 
the following June the Swedish Assembly, or Rigsdag, 
met in Stockholm, and forthwith chose Karl Knutss0n as 
king, and he was at once crowned at Upsala. 

The Danes, on their part, made overtures to Adolf of 
Slesvig to occupy the vacant throne ; but he induced 
them to accept in his place, his nephew Kristian, or 



Christiern, Count of Oldenborg, and he was chosen as king 
in the month of September. 

Norway was now without anyone as a claimant for the 
throne, and in default of heirs, the law provided that the 
bishops and chief men should meet at Nidaros and select 
a suitable person as king. This, however, was not done, 
and the archbishop was in Nidaros while the chief men of 
the kingdom were at Oslo, and so matters were left for the 
time, with Sigurd Jonss0n in authority. Meanwhile both 
Sweden and Denmark had provided themselves with kings, 
and each country was anxious for Norway to join in the 
arrangement which they had made. There were now two 
parties in the Norwegian Council, one, under Archbishop 
Aslak, in favour of the Swedish king, Karl, and the other, 
led by Jens, bishop of Oslo, supporting the claims of 
Kristian of Denmark. There was, however, one man who 
claimed descent from the old royal family of Norway 
namely, Sigurd Jonss0n, the "drotsete," who was a descen- 
dant of Agnes, the illegitimate daughter of Haakon V., 
and who might have been chosen as king of Norway, only 
he declined the honour. The majority of the council were 
in favour of the maintenance of the Kalmar union, and no 
step was taken at the end of 1448. 

In February, 1449, the Norwegian Council again met, 
and after some discussion, it was decided to send Bishop 
Jens and Hartvig Krummedike as their representatives to 
Denmark. According to some accounts they went with 
express instructions not to tender the crown to Kristian, 
but according to others they were under no restrictions. 
The two ambassadors were Danes, and there seems no 
doubt that they offered the crown of Norway to the 
Danish king. The next month they returned to Oslo, 
bringing some Danish chief men with them and a writing 
from Kristian. Finally a majority of the council agreed 
to accept Kristian as king of Norway, and a meeting was 


arranged to be held at Marstrand in July, where Kristian 
was present. The meeting was duly held, and the newly- 
chosen monarch issued a manifesto to Norway. It was 
also settled that Kristian should proceed to Nidaros the 
next year to receive his crown. Meanwhile the govern- 
ment of the country was left in the hands of the archbishop 
and Sigurd Jonss0n. 

So far all seemed to be regular, and the choice of King 
Kristian a free election on behalf of the Norwegian Council ; 
but the Norwegian chiefs asserted later, that all that they 
had done, both at Oslo and Marstrand, was under com- 
pulsion, and that Bishop Jens and his brother ambassador, 
came back supported by a body of 2,000 Danes, and the 
archbishop and the Norwegian-Swedish party were obliged 
to agree to the proposals of Bishop Jens. 

Meanwhile the supporters of Karl of Sweden had not 
been idle. In May of the same year, he had been chosen 
as king at a Thing held at Nidaros, and in October he 
came from Sweden to the Oplands, and was also accepted 
by a Thing at Hamar, at which the bishop was present. 
Then he went north to Nidaros, and Archbishop Aslak, 
who had by this time returned home (on the ground that 
he had acted under compulsion at both Oslo and Marstrand), 
received him, and crowned him in the cathedral on 
November 20th. A few days after Karl retired again to 
Sweden. There were now two kings formally accepted by 
the people in different parts of Norway, and the prepon- 
derance of the popular vote was undoubtedly given to 
Karl. The bishops were divided, the archbishop, and 
Bishop Jens of Oslo, heading the rival parties, and it 
seemed as if a civil war was inevitable. In the winter 
Karl made an attack on Oslo, the headquarters of the 
Danish party, but afterwards retreated to Sweden. 

When the spring came, negotiations were opened between 
Kristian and Karl, and a conference held between their 


representatives at Halmstad. Here, it would seem, Karl's 
cause was betrayed ; the greater prelates were hostile to him, 
and anxious for union with Denmark, and the result was 
that his claim to the crown of Norway was surrendered. 

In July, 1450, Kristian sailed for Nidaros with a strong 
fleet, and met with no opposition ; the archbishop had 
died at the end of 1449, and there was no one to lead the 
national party. On St. Olaf s day he was crowned in the 
cathedral, possibly by Marcellus, bishop of Skaalholt, of 
whom we shall hear more presently, but it is not quite 
certain. Before he left Nidaros, Kristian issued a procla- 
mation to the people, defending his title to the crown in 
opposition to Karl of Sweden. 

From Nidaros the new king went south to Bergen, 
where he held a meeting of the council. At this it was 
decided that Norway and Denmark were hereafter to be 
for ever united under one king, but that each kingdom 
was to be entirely independent. This completed the union 
of Norway and Denmark, which led to such disastrous 
consequences to the former kingdom, and which survived 
for the long period of 364 years. We have seen the active 
part which the prelates of Norway took in this matter. It 
is difficult, perhaps, to say that the archbishop's conduct 
was very straightforward throughout, though if it be true, 
as was asserted by the Norwegian party, that on the return 
of Bishop Jens he had with him a Danish army, then it is 
likely that Archbishop Aslak was compelled, against his 
will, to assent to Kristian' s nomination. He justified his 
subsequent action on that ground, and there is no doubt 
that he honestly believed that the Swedish king's rule 
would be likely to be more advantageous to his country 
than that of Kristian. Bishop Jens of Oslo seems, like 
Nicholas, his notorious predecessor in that see, to have 
been a crafty and treacherous man, and to have betrayed 
the interests of Norway to the Danes. He was himself a 


Dane, and was very much hated by the people in his 
extensive diocese, so much so, that an effort was made at 
one time to have him translated to Viborg, and the bishop 
of that see (who was a Norwegian) placed in Oslo ; but the 
arrangement fell through, and Jens remained in possession 
of his see until his death. 

We shall now see the result to the Church in Norway of 
the rule of the Danish kings, and the manner in which 
they deliberately set themselves, with the papal sanction, 
to destroy the right of free election, for which the Church 
had so long and zealously striven. The efforts of the 
king and the popes, were directed to placing in all the 
highest offices of the Church, men who had no interest in 
the country, and were, as a rule, ignorant of its language 
and customs, and who were appointed as a reward for 
services rendered to the papacy or the Danish court. 

The accession of Kristian I. was marked by the commence- 
ment of a long conflict, which left the Church in Norway 
without a primate for a period of nearly ten years, and in 
which the struggle between the popes and the king, against 
the canonically- elected archbishop, did infinite harm to the 
cause of religion in Norway. 

Archbishop Aslak Bolt died, as we have seen, at the end 
of 1449, and before the arrival of Kristian I. in Norway. 
On his death the chapter of Nidaros elected, as his 
successor, one of their own body, Olaf Throndss0n. This 
took place, it would seem, before July, 1450, in which 
month Kristian arrived at Nidaros. There was nothing to 
be alleged against the newly-chosen archbishop, but King 
Kristian had a fixed policy in his mind, which was to fill 
the sees of Norway, especially the primacy, with those 
upon whom he could depend to carry out his wishes. 
Kristian at once protested against the election of Olaf 
Throndss0n, on the ground that his approval had not been 
first obtained. 


The king's object in this, was to secure the post for a 
man on whom he reckoned to support his policy. This 
was Marcellus, a Franciscan monk, whom he had succeeded 
in inducing the pope in 1448 or 1449 to appoint as bishop 
of Skaalholt, in Iceland. Marcellus, however, merely drew 
the income of his distant diocese, but never went there. 
The previous life of the bishop of Skaalholt seems to have 
been open to grave suspicion, and it was supposed that he 
had been in prison for frauds of one kind or another. It 
would, however, appear that these charges, if not ground- 
less, were "not proven," for the pope appointed commis- 
sioners later on to investigate them, and they practically 
acquitted him. 

In Marcellus King Kristian thought he had the man he 
wanted as archbishop. At first, however, the chapter of 
Nidaros were unwilling to give way, but a compromise 
was arranged by which it was agreed to refer the dispute 
between the king and the chapter to arbitration. The 
arbitrators (among whom, curiously, was Marcellus him- 
self) decided in the king's favour, and upheld his 
contention that his consent was necessary for the election, 
and recommended to the chapter Marcellus, " the king's 
chancellor and bishop of Skaalholt and papal legate." 
Now followed, perhaps, the most scandalous episode in the 
history of the Church in Norway. Kristian and Marcellus 
entered into a formal contract before a notary, the terms 
of which still exist, * by which, as a reward for carrying 
out the king's plans, he was to become archbishop of 
Nidaros. Marcellus was to go to Kome, and there persuade 
the pope to recognize the right of the king to present 
to the bishoprics in Norway and Denmark, and also 
to the appointment of clergy, and further that the 
pope should sanction the union of the three kingdoms 
under Kristian. If Marcellus did not accomplish this 

* " Diplomatarium Norvegicum," Vol. II., 789. 


before the Christmas twelvemonth following, the bargain 
was to be at an end, and the king might appoint someone 
else to Nidaros. When this shameful compact had been 
made, Marcellus was, by some of the chapter, chosen as 
archbishop in place of Olaf, whose election had been 
declared invalid, and Marcellus went off with his monarch 
to Denmark. 

The king and Marcellus, however, reckoned without 
their host. The pope (Nicholas V.) had himself another 
candidate.* It is not quite clear if Marcellus went at 
once to Eome in accordance with the compact, but in any 
case he was not able to fulfil his part in time, though the 
king did not abandon him as his candidate on this account. 
The pope declined to recognize him, and in February, 
1452, he nominated to the see of Nidaros, Henrik Kalteisen, 
a German by birth, and one who had proved himself most 
useful to the Holy See at the Council of Basel. Kalteisen 
was a learned man of upright life, and had been Inquisitor- 
general in Germany. He was then well advanced in years, 
and quite ignorant of the language and everything else 
connected with Norway. 

The position of affairs was now a curious one. Three 
men had been nominated to the vacant see. There was, 
first, what we might call the national candidate, Olaf 
Throndss0n, who represented the Norwegian Church, and 
had been duly chosen by the Nidaros chapter after the 
old and lawful manner ; secondly, there was the royal 
nominee, Marcellus, who represented the claim of Kristian 
to control the election; and, thirdly, Henrik Kalteisen, 

* The reader will note how this case presents an exact parallel to the 
state of affairs in England, in the famous dispute which ended in 
Stephen Langton's elevation to the throne of Augustine. There was 
King John's nominee, John de Gray ; the elect of the chapter of 
Canterbury, Reginald ; and the papal nominee, Stephen. Unfortunately 
for Norway, however, Henrik Kalteisen did not turn out a Stephen 


whom the pope wished to force on both the national 
Church and the king. 

Armed with papal authority, Kalteisen betook himself 
at once to Kristian in Denmark. The king for the 
moment found it wisest to give way, and, abandoning his 
candidate, sent Kalteisen to Norway. Early the next 
year, 1453, the new archbishop was in Bergen, and in 
May he reached Nidaros. On his arrival, Henrik found 
that his new post was very far from being a pleasant one. 
The chapter, with more courage than we might have ex- 
pected under the circumstances, protested against having 
as archbishop an old and feeble man, who would be unable 
to withstand the fatigues which the administration and 
visitation of his vast diocese must entail, and who, more- 
over, could not speak the language of his people. It was 
only natural that a man who had been accustomed to the 
comforts and mode of living of the south of Europe would, 
in his old days, shrink from the duties which lay before 
him. Henrik, who was a conscientious man, believed it 
to be his wisest course to resign the archbishopric. 

At a meeting of the council, which was held in Bergen 
in October, at which the king was present, he expressed 
his willingness to resign. This course met with the unani- 
mous approval of the council, and a letter to the pope 
was drawn up, begging him to accept Henrik' s resignation 
and to appoint either Olaf or Marcellus, as his successor. 
This, however, the pope refused to do, and matters were 
again at a deadlock. 

The next year Marcellus appears to have gone to Eome 
to urge his claims, but apparently without success, and on 
his way home he was attacked, plundered, and imprisoned 
at Koln, apparently by the townsfolk, but, as has been 
supposed, at the instigation of the Eoman authorities. 
Marcellus appears soon to have obtained his release, as the 
next year we hear of him with the king in Denmark, 


Founded before 1183, later on the Church of the Hanseatic Merchants, hence called Tyske 
(German) Kirken. The German language was used in the Services as late as 1868. 

[To face p. 282. 


whilst Henrik had left Norway and returned to the papal 

While matters were in this state with respect to the 
primacy, a terrible tragedy occurred in Bergen in Sep- 
tember, 1455 one happily unique in the history of the 
Norwegian Church. 

The bishop of Bergen was now Thorleif Olafss0n. Before 
his preferment to that see he had been chaplain to King 
Erik, and afterwards bishop of Viborg. The governor of 
the city of Bergen was Olaf Nilss0n, who was extremely 
unpopular with the German merchants of the Hanseatic 
league, on account of the way in which he defended the 
rights of his countrymen against these traders, who sought 
to control all the business of the town. His unpopularity 
became so great that the king removed him from his post, 
whereupon Olaf, getting together a body of men, captured 
the Swedish stronghold of Elfsborg, and offered it to the 
king on condition of receiving back again his post at 
Bergen. This was agreed to, and Olaf Nilss0n returned 
to that city. Bishop Thorleif was friendly to the governor, 
and endeavoured to adjust the differences between him and 
the German residents. 

The return of their old enemy with his power confirmed 
by the king, roused the German traders to madness. In 
yain the bishop did his best to make peace, but the 
merchants refused to listen to any conditions. Matters 
became so threatening that Olaf Nilss0n was obliged to 
seek refuge in the great cloister of Munkeliv, which 
crowned the ridge which divides the harbour (the opposite 
side of which was occupied by the German merchants) 
from what is now called the Pudde Fjord. To this place 
of refuge the bishop himself went, along with two priests. 

On the 1 st of September the outbreak took place. Swarm- 
ing out from their quarter, the Germans and their followers, 
to the number of 2,000, marched round the end of the 


harbour and attacked the great cloister. It would appear 
that Olaf Nilss0n and the bishop were not prepared to 
resist the assault. When the attack was made the bishop 
was in the chapel. The doors were burst open, and a mob 
invaded the sacred precincts. The bishop went to the 
altar, and, taking the Host with him, calmly walked 
forward to meet his foes ; but, notwithstanding the fact 
that he was their bishop, and that he carried in his right 
hand the sacred Host, he was at once cut to pieces, as 
well as his few brave adherents. Olaf Mlss0n had taken 
refuge in the tower of the monastery, but this was promptly 
set on fire. The smoke soon obliged him to surrender, 
and on doing so he was at once put to death. The flames 
spread to the rest of the building, and soon the great 
Munkeliv cloister was but a heap of smouldering ruins. 

This terrible outrage Kristian at first hesitated to 
punish; but the pope acted with greater decision. All 
concerned in the rising were at once excommunicated and 
heavily fined, and the duty of rebuilding the cloister was 
laid upon the German residents in Bergen. 

Kristian, however, turned this matter to his own advan- 
tage. In his defence to the pope, he pointed out that this 
disturbance and murder of one of the highest officers of 
the Church, was an evidence of how much the country 
suffered from the want of its proper ecclesiastical head, 
and he again pressed forward the claims of Marcellus; 
but neither side would give way. Soon another point in 
dispute seemed about to arise between the king and the 
pope. To fill the vacancy in the see of Bergen caused 
by the murder of Bishop Thorleif, the king nominated 
Joachim Grubbe, a Danish noble, but as he was under 
canonical age it was necessary that he should obtain a 
papal dispensation. This the pope promptly refused, and 
nominated an Italian, Paolo Justiniani. Fortunately, how- 
ever, in the interests of peace, Grubbe died at this time, 


and the king, seeing that the papal nominee might be very 
useful to him, passed over the pope's arbitrary action in 
appointing Paolo to the vacant see. 

It was in 1457 that, Karl Knutss0n having been expelled 
from Sweden, Kristian was elected king, and again united 
the three kingdoms under one monarch. He now decided 
to send Paolo Justiniani to Eome to try once more to gain 
the papal approval of Marcellus' appointment to Nidaros. 
This mission, however, was a failure, and in 1458 the 
pope (Calixtus III.) died and Pius II. succeeded him. 

But now at last Kristian abandoned the cause of 
Marcellus, and consented to recognize Olaf Throndss0n. 
Henrik Kalteisen having persisted in his resignation, 
the pope agreed to accept Olaf, and he was consecrated 
in 1459, more than nine years from the date of his 
election by the Nidaros chapter. Marcellus had to be 
content with his Skaalholt bishopric, which he never 
visited, and in 1462 he was drowned off the Swedish coast. 

We must now revert to the year 1458, when an impor- 
tant meeting was held at Skara, in the month of January. 

King Kristian called together the principal ecclesiastics 
and chief men of Norway, in order to induce them to 
accept his son Hans, then a child of only two years old, 
as his successor to the crown of Norway. This, it seems, 
he had no difficulty in doing, the monarchy in Norway 
not being elective, as in the two other countries, and when 
Kristian was recognized, it followed by the Norwegian law 
that his eldest son should succeed him. 

At this gathering Olaf Throndss0n was present, and 
though the king had practically withdrawn his opposition 
to him, he was yet only archbishop-elect. Along with him 
were the bishops of Oslo, Hamar and Stavanger, and some 
other prominent clergy. In the month of February they 
induced Kristian to accept the T0nsberg Concordat, which 
had been abandoned since the time of Erik, one hundred and 


sixty-eight years before. This was, at first sight, a great 
triumph on the part of the Church over the royal power, and 
we may wonder how it was that Kristian, who was determined 
to make the Church as much as possible subservient to him, 
would for a moment have consented to such a proposal 
A little consideration, however, will make us see how this 
came about. In the first place, the king was very anxious 
to obtain the support of the Church in Norway for his 
young son Hans, and to obtain this, was prepared to make 
very great apparent concessions. 

In spite of the state into which the Church had 
fallen, it was still the greatest power in the land, and, as 
most of the old Norwegian great men and chiefs, had been 
replaced by Danes, the ecclesiastics represented the popular 
feeling in Norway more than any other class. Again, 
it must be borne in mind that the very great concessions 
of the T0nsberg Concordat were at this time of compara- 
tively little importance: the whole state of things had 
changed. The power of the papacy was widely different 
from what it had been, and although a power was given to 
the Church beyond anything which it had before, except for 
the few years in which the concordat lasted, yet, as has 
well been pointed out, it was only an authority on paper, 
and the very worst instances of oppression and disregard 
of the rights of the Norwegian Church took place, we shall 
find, under his successor. The semblance of power was 
given, but none of the reality. It is only fair to Kristian 
to say that he seems, on the whole, for the rest of his reign 
to have refrained from interference in the internal affairs 
of the Church in Norway. 

We must here mention a political event which affected 
the Church, as it tended to further reduce the limits of 
the province of Nidaros. "We have already seen how the 
diocese of Sodor and Man had become detached from it, 
and now another portion of the British Isles was about 


to follow in the same way. Kristian, unable to find the 
dowry (60,000 gylden) of his daughter Margaret, who 
married James III. of Scotland, promised in lieu of it 
(1469) to abandon the tribute which the Scottish kings 
had paid for the Hebrides since the time of Magnus Laga- 
b0ter. This, however, was not enough, so he was obliged 
to pledge first the Orkneys, and then the Shetlands, and 
thus the ancient authority of the kings of Norway over 
these portions of the British Isles finally disappeared, as 
the money to redeem them was never afterwards forth- 
coming. The transference of authority was of course 
nominally only civil, and the Orkneys with their bishop 
still remained in the Nidaros province; but practically 
from this time onwards they were detached from their 
ancient ecclesiastical allegiance. ^ 

Archbishop Olaf died in 1474, and his successor was 
Gaute Ivarss0n. Olaf had been for fifteen years recog- 
nized as archbishop, but was, twenty- four years before his 
death, elected by the chapter. 

In 1474 Kristian went on a pilgrimage to Eome, and 
while there obtained the consent of the pope to the 
founding of a university at Copenhagen, but it was not 
finally established until 1479. The new university 
diverted the attendance of the Norwegian and Danish 
clergy from Eostock to Copenhagen, and was a great 
benefit to the cause of higher education in Norway and 
Denmark. Kristian I. died at Copenhagen in May, 1481, 
and was buried in Eoskilde. 

The death of Kristian I. was followed by a short inter- 
regnum. His son Hans had been, as we have seen, 
accepted by the Norwegian bishops and chief men as his 

* A few years later, however, we find the Orkneys forming a part 
of the province of St. Andrews, and that bishopric is mentioned in the 
bull of Pope Sixtus IV. (raising the see of St. Andrews to metropolitan 
rank) as one of the suffragan sees in the new province. 


father's successor at the meeting in Skara in 1458, but in 
spite of this, after Kristian's death the Norwegian govern- 
ment was carried on by the council, with the archbishop 
at its head, and it was not until January, 1483, at a 
meeting in Halmstad, that Hans was formally taken as 
king in Norway and Denmark. On February 1st the new 
king issued an important manifesto, which was known as 
the " Halmstad Kecess," and which was intended to reassure 
his Norwegian subjects and to remove the grievances which 
were complained of. In this document Hans promised, 
among other things, to support the Church and uphold all 
its privileges. He would not interfere with the rights of 
election, or force foreigners into office in Norway, and the 
clergy were to be exempted from the civil courts in alt 
ecclesiastical matters. The murderers of Bishop Thorleif 
were to be punished. 

These promises were made by the king apparently for 
the purpose of securing the support of the Norwegians, 
but he afterwards violated them in almost every particular, 
and the Church in Norway, during his reign, was subjected 
to many indignities. At first, however, things seemed to 
go well. Hans came to Norway, and in July, 1483, he was 
crowned at Trondhjem'* by Archbishop Gaute. After an 
absence of about three years, during which there was a 
considerable amount of discontent, the king returned to 
Norway, and after a meeting with the bishops and chief 
men at Bergen better relations were again established. In 
1489 Hans secured the recognition of his son Kristian, 
then eight years of age, as his successor to the Norwegian 

There were at this time in Norway two distinct parties. 
Many of the people and clergy were hostile to the Danish 
rule, and wished for an opportunity of freeing their country 

* The old name of Nidaros was abandoned for the modern Trondhjem 
a little before this time. 


from it ; but, on the other hand, there was a less numerous, 
but more powerful, body of the Danish noblemen who had 
received property in Norway from the king, and a certain 
number of officials. Many of the Danes had intermarried 
with Norwegians, and as time went on their numbers 
increased considerably, and eventually this led to the 
complete subserviency of Norway to the Danish kings, 
and brought the country into the position of merely a 
province in the kingdom of Denmark. These two rival 
parties had, as their leaders, Alf Knutss0n and Hartvig 
Krummedike. The former was, on his mother's side, a 
scion of a very old Norwegian family, closely connected 
with the ancient royal line ; whilst the latter was a well- 
known Dane, whom we have met with before, in connection 
with the negotiations which ended in the election of 
Kristian I. to the throne of Norway. 

Although Norway had accepted Hans in 1483, it was 
not until 1497 that Sweden came under his rule. Both 
countries were quite ready, when the opportunity offered, 
to try and get rid of their Danish monarch. This was 
presented to them in the year 1500. Kristian I. had 
received from the Kaiser Frederick III. the country of the 
Ditmarsk, in Holstein a region lying between the Elbe 
and the Eider. The inhabitants of this district were a 
hardy race, who carried on a ceaseless warfare against the 
encroachments of the North Sea, and whose coast was 
defended by dykes, as in Holland. The land was in parts 
rich and fertile, but there was much fen country, and the 
narrow roads had usually a deep dyke on each side. The 
Ditmarskers were a brave and independent folk, and they 
did not approve of being handed over to a neighbour who, 
as such, was likely to exercise much greater authority over 
them than the kaiser. Kristian I., however, did prac- 
tically nothing with regard to the country, and it fell to 
the lot of Hans to try to make his power felt. 

C.S.N. U 


At the beginning of 1500 the king and his brother, 
Duke Frederick, assembled an army with the intention of 
crushing out the independence of these hardy peasants. 
The forces of the king consisted largely of mercenaries, 
and his total strength is estimated at from twelve to fifteen 
thousand men. Without meeting any opposition he took 
possession of the town of Meldorf, and then in an evil 
hour decided to complete his conquest of the country, by 
going north to Heide. The distance was very short 
(between eight and ten miles), but the difficulties of the 
way were very great. The road lay between dykes, and 
was a narrow one, and rendered heavy by a thaw which 
had just set in. On February 17th the army started on 
the ill-fated march. The peasants were determined to 
make a stand for their liberty, and assembled under Wolf 
Isebrand. With difficulty the king's army made its way 
along the heavy road until they reached Hemmingsted, 
where, to their utter surprise, they found the enemy 
awaiting them, who at once opened fire upon the Danish 
forces. The cavalry were in the van, and were thrown 
into confusion, and the horses sank in the mire. The 
water in the dykes rose, as the people had opened the 
sluices, and the Ditmarskers at once attacked their foes. 
Twice they were repulsed, but the royal forces could not 
leave the narrow road and follow their agile assailants. 
To retreat or advance was impossible, and a third attack 
broke all attempt at resistance ; the helpless soldiers were 
hewn down like sheep, and those in the rear alone were 
able to escape. King Hans and his brother managed to 
make their way out of the scene of slaughter with a mere 
fragment of their powerful force, and the victors (fortu- 
nately for them) did not attempt to follow up their success. 

After this terrible defeat of King Hans the spirit of 
rebellion, which had long been smouldering in Norway 
and Sweden, soon broke into a flame. The chiefs of both 


parties were dead, but their sons, Knut Alf ss0n and Henrik 
Krummedike, took their fathers' places. In 1501 Knut 
Alfss0n gathered men in Sweden, and attacked and captured 
Akershus at Oslo, and T0nsberg, and there seemed to be a 
prospect of breaking the Danish yoke. Henrik Krumme- 
dike, however, came to defend the cause of the king, and 
gained some advantage over Knut. The latter was now 
anxious to make terms, and was induced, in August, 1502, 
to go on board Henrik' s ship under the promise of a safe 
conduct. When he got there he was at once treacherously 
murdered and his body thrown overboard. All his 
property was confiscated to the Crown. Thus, deprived of 
their leader, the Norwegian national party had no alterna- 
tive but to submit. The Swedes, however, still continued 
the struggle. 

The spirit of rebellion was not quite extinguished in 
central Norway, and only awaited an opportunity to 
manifest itself. 

In 1507 King Hans sent his son, Duke Kristian, to 
Norway as governor. He was a young man of ability, 
but cruel and treacherous, and he soon had an opportunity 
of displaying these qualities. In 1508 the people of 
Hedemark rose in rebellion under Herluf Hufvudfat, but 
Duke Kristian quickly crushed it, and took the leaders 
prisoners and had them put to death at Akershus. 
According to some authorities it is said that before their 
death, they accused Karl, bishop of Hamar, who had 
only been three years bishop at the time of the rising, of 
having instigated the rebellion. Whether the bishop was 
guilty of the charge or not, Kristian determined to punish 
him. By deceit he induced Karl to come to him,^ and at 

* How little the bishop expected such treatment is shown by the 
fact that before he left his palace, he told his people he would return in 
eight days bringing back the duke as his guest. It was this which 
probably induced the bishop's servants to open the palace gates at once. 



once threw him into prison, and started with an armed 
force for Hamar. Pretending that he and the bishop were 
pursued by the Swedes, the doors of the bispegaard, or 
palace, were thrown open to him. The place was then 
sacked by the duke and his followers, and the adjoining 
cathedral plundered. That this unparalleled outrage, 
which, by its attack on the bishop, entailed immediate 
excommunication on the duke, did not at once raise a 
storm throughout the land was a proof of the weakness of 
the Church and the power of the king. The duke left the 
bishop in prison without bringing him to trial. Arch- 
bishop Gaute does not seem to have done much on his 
suffragan's behalf. He wrote, indeed, to the king, and 
Kristian was called upon to defend himself to the pope, 
which he did with many false statements. The pope 
appointed two bishops, a German and a Dane, to investi- 
gate the case, passing over the archbishop. Nothing 
definite seems to have come of this, and the unfortunate 
bishop still remained a prisoner. His despair of ever 
obtaining justice, led him to attempt to escape, and in 
doing so he broke his leg, which seems to have hastened 
his death, for when, after four years' imprisonment, he was 
released in 1512, he died almost immediately after at Oslo. 
Two years before this Archbishop Gaute Ivarss0n died, 
having filled the see of Mdaros for thirty-four years, 
a longer period than any of his predecessors. He 
seems to have been in ill-health and extreme old age at 
the time of Bishop Karl's imprisonment, or he would 
probably have taken some more energetic steps to obtain 
justice for him. The events which followed the death of 
Gaute showed the way in which King Hans observed the 
conditions of the Halmstad Eecess. The chapter imme- 
diately elected John Krabbe as Gaute' s successor, and he 
at once started for Eome to receive, as he expected, 


King Hans and Duke Kristian between them had anti- 
cipated the death of the old archbishop, and were determined, 
in spite of the solemn promise to the contrary, to place a 
Dane at the head of the Norwegian Church. They selected 
as their candidate Erik Yalkendorf, a canon of Eoskilde 
and chancellor and secretary to Duke Kristian, and they 
seem to have arranged matters with the pope (Julius II.), 
who was willing to have the royal nominee. Krabbe, 
therefore, found he was not to be Graute's successor, and 
the pope, in August, 1510, overruling the choice of the 
Mdaros chapter, nominated, per provisionem, Erik Valken- 
dorf as archbishop, and he was forthwith consecrated. 

We have seen that these events occurred during 
the time the unfortunate bishop of Hamar was still in 
prison. We have no certain knowledge if the new arch- 
bishop interfered on his behalf, but it was decided that 
on his release, Karl was to be sent to Erik in Trondhjem, 
but death, at Oslo, ended his troubles before this could be 
carried out. 

The arrest, and imprisonment of a bishop without trial 
was, however, not a matter which could altogether be 
passed over without notice, even by a pope friendly to 
the duke and his father. By Kristian's act he was in law 
ipso facto excommunicated, and it was necessary that he 
should receive absolution. The papal nuncio Grave was 
ordered to remove the Church's ban at the end of 1512, 
and on Pope Leo X.'s accession (1513) he issued a bull to 
the archbishop and the bishop of Eoskilde directing them 
to convey the papal absolution, if the duke would clear 
himself by oath of having caused the bishop's death. 
This Kristian did to their satisfaction. 

King Hans, who had practically given over Norway to 
his son, died, after a fall from his horse on his way to 
Aalborg, in February, 1513, after a reign of thirty years. 
We have seen the way in which he treated the Church in 


Norway, notwithstanding the promises which he made at 
the commencement of his reign. It would perhaps be 
unfair to judge him too hardly in the matter of the 
barbarous treatment of Bishop Karl, but there can be no 
excuse for the deliberate policy which he sanctioned of 
filling all the highest offices in the Church with Danes 
instead of Norwegians, when he had distinctly pledged his 
royal word not to do so. More and more feeble grew the 
Church under its foreign rulers, darker and darker its 
prospects, and the end was not far off. 



Kristian's promises to the Church Archbishop Erik's zeal Dy veke and 
her Mother Kristian's marriage Erik leaves Norway His death 
in Rome Lutheranism in Denmark War with Sweden The 
"Bloodbath of Stockholm " Kristian deposed, 1523 Olaf Engel- 
brektss0n, the last Archbishop, elected His Character Position 
of Affairs in Norway Henrikss0n of 0steraat Vincent Lunge 
Norwegian Council accepts Frederick I. His Manifesto from 
Ribe Attacks on Church Property Norway uninfluenced by the 
Reformation The Bishops of Norway Affairs of Denmark 
Herredags at Odense, 1526-1527 First Lutheran preacher in 
Bergen Destruction of Churches in Bergen Lunge and Eske 
Bilde Bishop Olaf Thorkildss0n Consents to the Destruction of 
his Cathedral Archbishop Olaf powerless The Norwegian 
Church turns to Kristian II. He Abjures Lutheranism Comes 
to Norway Frederick Relieves Oslo Surrender of Kristian under 
promise of Safe Conduct His long Imprisonment and Death 
The Rebellion Crushed Death of Frederick. 

As we are now rapidly approaching trie time when the 
great blow fell upon Norway, which severed its connection 
with the Catholic Church of Western Europe, it is very 
necessary that we should note carefully the historical 
events which led up to this. We have seen the way in 
which the Danish kings Kristian I. and Hans had treated 
Norway, both ecclesiastically and civilly, and how their 
policy was to bring it into entire subserviency to Denmark. 
The few feeble attempts which the Norwegian people 
made to regain something of their old independence, show 
us how almost entirely, the spirit of the country had died 
out or perhaps it would be fairer to say, how destitute the 


land was then of a single capable leader, who would unite 
the people, and lead them to victory and independence 
once more. 

The story of the disestablishment of the ancient Nor- 
wegian Church, and the erection in its place of the 
Lutheran community, is one which presents few, if any, 
redeeming features. Everywhere we note the rapacity of 
the king and his courtiers, who destroyed in a wholesale 
manner churches and monasteries, and almost for the time 
swept all religion from the land ; and on the other side we 
find, with few exceptions, that the bishops and clergy 
made but little resistance, and seem to have lost every 
chance which offered to them, of taking decisive action at 
a critical moment, when the whole situation might have 
been changed. 

Kristian II. (like his father before him) had been 
accepted as king when he was only eight years old, during 
Hans' s lifetime, and at that monarch's death there was no 
opposition to his claim in either Denmark or Norway. 

Hans died in February, and in the July following 
Kristian issued the customary manifesto, which contained 
almost exactly the same promises to the Church and State 
as that of the Halmstad Eecess. It did not, apparently, 
seem at all incongruous, that the man who had imprisoned, 
and kept without trial for four years, a bishop of the 
Norwegian Church, should promise to respect all its rights 
and privileges, and that none of the high offices should be 
filled with others than native Norwegians, when he had 
been the means a short time before, of displacing the 
canonically elected archbishop, in order to install a Danish 
ecclesiastic in the primacy. 

The year following he was crowned king of Norway at 
Oslo, in the month of July. 

The new archbishop, Erik Valkendorf, was a man who 
had a very high sense of the duties of his office, and set 


himself to look after the Church and province committed to 
his care. He had been chancellor and secretary to the 
king, during the time he had ruled Norway in his father's 
name, and Kristian, in forcing him on the Nidaros chapter 
by the exercise of the papal power, expected to find in 
him a willing agent for all his schemes with respect to the 
Norwegian Church. But Kristian found, as other kings 
before him had found, that a subservient chancellor and 
secretary, could become a very different kind of man 
when placed at the head of a national Church, whose 
interests might often come into collision with the head of 
the State. 

At first, however, all went smoothly. Archbishop Erik 
devoted himself to the care of his diocese and province. 
Among other plans, he was very anxious to revive the 
connection with the distant diocese of Garde, in Greenland, 
which had almost ceased to exist. The Norse colony there 
had suffered a great deal from the attacks of the Eskimo, 
and the trade, which had at one time been fairly brisk 
between Iceland and Greenland, and through the former 
country with Norway, had practically come to an end. 
Bishops for the see of Garde had been consecrated, it is 
true, and were recognized as suffragans of the archbishop 
of Nidaros, but few, if any of them, ever went to their 
distant diocese. They acted as vicars for bishops, like 
Marcellus, who was bishop of Skaalholt, but never went 
to Iceland, and religion in Greenland had come to a very 
low ebb indeed. 

We gain a very extraordinary picture of the state of the 
diocese of Garde from a bull issued by Pope Alexander 
VI. in 1492, in which he says : 

" We understand the church of Garde is situated at the 
end of the world, in the country of Greenland, in which 
the people there living, for lack of bread, wine, and oil, 
are accustomed to make use of dried fish and milk, and on 


account of the very rare voyages to the said land, caused 
by the intense freezing of the waters, so that no ship is 
believed to have made the voyage thither for eighty years ; 
and if any such voyage were to be made it is believed it 
could only be done in the month of August, when the ice 
is thawed. And for these same reasons the church there, 
is said to have had for these eighty years, no bishop or 
priest over it personally residing there. On account of 
which absence of Catholic clergy it has resulted that 
maftywho were once Catholics, and had received baptism, 
have left the faith shame be it said ! Also that the 
inhabitants of that land have nothing left in memory 
of the Christian religion, but a corporal which is ex- 
hibited once a year, upon which, a hundred years ago, 
the Body of Christ was consecrated by the last priest 
remaining there." * 

Archbishop Erik laid down plans for re-opening the 
communication with this distant part of his province, and 
made careful enquiries from all available sources as to the 
voyage thither, &e., and there seemed a reasonable prospect 
of something being done for Greenland. King Kristian, 
however, declined to fall in with the archbishop's plans, 
and the attempt failed. In 1519 or 1520 the last bishop 
of Garde, Yincentius Kampe, was consecrated for a diocese 
which, from his predecessor's neglect, might well be de- 
scribed as in partibus inftdelium. 

Kristian II. was unmarried when he ascended the 
throne, and in 1515 he formed an alliance which tended 
to considerably enhance his position among the princes 
of Europe; but before we come to it it is necessary 
to advert to an incident in his earlier life which had, 

* " The Norse Colonization in America, by the light of the Vatican 
Finds," by Marie A. Shipley. Lucerne, H. Kneller, 1899. Many 
interesting details about Greenland will be found in Dr. Luka Jelic's 
L' Evangelisation de TAmerique avant Christophe Colomb. 

DYVEKE. 299 

indirectly, a most important influence on his subsequent 

During Kristian's stay in Norway (in 1507), before he 
became king, he was present at a gathering at Bergen, 
where he met a very beautiful Dutch girl named Dyveke. 
The duke, as he then was, became enamoured of the fair 
foreigner, and took her with him to Oslo, along with her 
mother, Sigbrit, a very bad but clever and ambitious old 
woman, who speedily acquired a great influence over 
Kristian, which she used to the uttermost, and which 
eventually turned out to be most disastrous to him. 

In 1515 Kristian arranged for his marriage with 
Isabella, daughter of Philip of Burgundy and sister of Charles 
of Burgundy, afterwards the Emperor Charles V. The 
following year the king sent an embassy, of which Arch- 
bisliop Erik was the head, to fetch his bride from the 
Netherlands. Isabella arrived in Copenhagen in August, 
and was married and crowned there. It appears that 
Charles, the new queen's brother, had heard rumours of 
the king's connection with Dyveke, and wrote to Kristian 
on the subject. He also spoke plainly to the archbishop, 
before his sister's wedding, as to the importance of ending 
the affair, but, being then only a very young man, his 
remonstrances were unheeded. The archbishop both wrote 
and spoke to the king on the subject, and by this, not 
merely incurred the displeasure of Kristian, but drew 
down upon himself the anger of Sigbrit, Dyveke's mother, 
who vowed vengeance on him, and who, as we shall see, 
did not forget her vow. Kristian appears to have treated 
his young wife with great indifference, which she seems to 
have felt very keenly. The Emperor Maximilian, hearing 
of this, sent a special ambassador, Sigismund Herberstein, 
to remonstrate with Kristian, and try and induce him to 
break off all communication with Dyveke and her mother; 
but even this did not make any change in the state of 


affairs. Indeed, it seems as if it only confirmed him in his 
infatuation for them both. 

Matters continued in the same way for some time longer, 
and Dyveke and her mother lived close to the royal palace 
in Copenhagen. In 1517, probably in June, Dyveke died 
suddenly, not without suspicion of having been poisoned 
in revenge for her interference in some court intrigues. 
The death of his mistress, however, did not free Kristian 
from the malign influence of her mother, the clever and 
unscrupulous Sigbrit ; indeed, it only seems to have riveted 
the chains which bound him to this remarkable woman. 
She was his chief adviser in matters both of Church and 
State, and contrived to fill all the offices which fell vacant 
in Norway, with those upon whom she could rely on being 
faithful to her, and who would harass and thwart the 
archbishop as much as possible. One of these was Hans 
Mule, who, though a priest, was nominated as the adminis- 
trator of Akershus, a purely civil .office. In this post 
Hans deliberately set himself to oust Bishop Andreas Mus, 
of Oslo, from his see, and the unfortunate man was perse- 
cuted in every possible way by Mule and his adherents. 
The archbishop did his best to protect him, and wrote to 
the king in 1519 to complain of Mule's actions. In 1520 
there seems to have been an open rupture between Erik 
and Mule, but Kristian was at this time engaged on his 
expedition to Sweden. 

The archbishop now determined himself to go to Denmark 
and put his case before the king. In May, 1521, he made 
arrangements in Trondhjem for a prolonged absence, and set 
sail ; but by stress of weather he was driven out of his course, 
and found himself at the end of June, in Amsterdam, instead 
of Copenhagen. Curiously enough King Kristian came to 
the same place at that very time, as he was engaged in 
some negotiations with his brother-in-law, Charles V. He 
tried to have the archbishop arrested, but the authorities 


refused, and, after an interview with the king, Erik went to 
Utrecht, where he remained until November, when he 
started for Eome, which, however, he did not reach until 
February, 1522. Meanwhile he had written a long defence 
of himself to the council in Denmark, in which he charged 
Sigbrit with influencing the king against him in every 
way. He came to Eome just at the time of the death of 
Leo X. His successor was Adrian VI., with whom the 
archbishop was personally acquainted, and from whom he 
might well have expected to obtain justice. Unfortunately, 
however, Adrian was delayed in Spain for some months 
after his election, and did not arrive at Eome until the end 
of August, whilst the unfortunate archbishop, worn out with 
anxiety and the fatigues of his journey, died in November, 
1522. Erik Valkendorf, although a Dane, had proved 
himself a true friend to the Norwegian Church.* He had 
set himself firmly on the side of morality and justice, and, 
like many another before him, found the reward to be exile 
from his country. The king's treatment of one who had served 
him faithfully, only helps to show us what a treacherous 
and worthless man he was. When the old archbishop, sick 
at heart, found himself on his death -bed in Eome, without 
having had his cause vindicated, he might well have used 
(but with far greater truth) the bitter words of Pope 
Gregory VIL, " I have loved righteousness and hated 
iniquity, therefore I die in exile. " 

During the time the archbishop was seeking to have his 
case considered, the continued persecution against Andreas 
Mus, the bishop of Oslo, had produced the desired result of 
forcing him, in 1521, to resign his see, nominally of his 
own free will. He, however, made a good bargain, and 

* In Archbishop Erik's time, printing was first used for the Church 
service books in Norway. He had the missal printed in Copen- 
hagen and the " Breviarium Nidrosiense " printed in Paris, both in 


was allowed to retain a considerable amount of the income. 
The chapter now proceeded to elect Hans Mule, but he was 
not then consecrated, and continued to hold his office under 
the Crown. 

"We must now retrace our steps a little and follow the 
course of events in Denmark. 

The Swedes had been more successful than the Norwe- 
gians (after the defeat of Hans in 1500) in throwing off the 
Danish yoke, and maintained their independence under 
Sten Sture, and his son of the same name. Kristian, how- 
ever, was watching his opportunity to recover what had 
been lost. 

In 1517 the preaching of Luther had, as we know, 
aroused the attention of Europe, and Denmark, from its 
situation, was naturally soon affected by it. The sale of 
papal indulgences went on in Denmark and Norway, as 
well as in other countries, and in 1517 the papal legate, 
John Arcemboldus, came to Denmark^ to sell them, and 
also to act as a mediator between Kristian and Sten Sture. 
On his arrival he made an arrangement with the king, by 
paying him the sum of 1,100 gulden, for the privilege of 
selling indulgences in his dominions, which he did largely 
in Denmark and Norway through his various agents. After 
spending a profitable and pleasant time in the former 
country he, in 1518, proceeded to Sweden, having gained 
Kristian 7 s confidence and led him to suppose that he was 
entirely on his side. When, however, he came there, Sten 
Sture found it easy to bring him over completely to his 
views. Information of Arcemboldus' s betrayal of his cause 
reached Kristian in 1519, and the king was furious and 
tried to seize him, but he managed to escape to Liibeck 
with a great deal of the money he had taken. Kristian, 

* Full particulars as to the mission of Arcemboldus in Denmark and 
Sweden will be found in Paludan-Miiller's " De f0rste Konger af den 
Oldenborgske Slaegt." 



however, was able to secure some of it in Norway * and 
other places. 

Enraged at the duplicity of the papal envoy, Kristian 
now decided to be revenged, by patronizing Luther. In 
1520 he applied to the Elector of Saxony, who sent him a 
priest named Martin Eeinhard, who arrived that year in 
Copenhagen. A Carmelite monk, Paul Elia3ss0n, seems to 
have been the person who suggested this course to the 
king, and when Eeinhard came, he translated his discourses, 
as the former could not speak Danish. The efforts of 
Eeinhard seem to have had no effect, and Elisess0n, finding 
Luther went too far for him, gave up his emissary. It was 
about this time, and from no religious motives, that Kristian 
suppressed the nunnery of Gims0, at Skien, in Norway. 

In 1520 Kristian resolved to attack Sten Sture and, 
if possible, bring back Sweden to the Danish crown. In 
this he was successful. The king's army crossed into 
Sweden, and Sten Sture, defeated and mortally wounded 
at the battle fought on the ice at Bogesund, died very soon 
after. Now Sweden lay at the mercy of Kristian, though 
it was some months before he completed the conquest of 
the country. 

On November 4th, 1520, Kristian was crowned at Stock- 
holm, and there he assembled many of the principal nobility 
of Sweden, who, unsuspicious of any treachery, responded 
to the king's invitation. The coronation feast, however, 
was marked by a most horrible atrocity. The enemies of 
Sten Sture, headed by the Archbishop Gustav Trolle, 
determined to be revenged on their former antagonists. 
On the night of November 7th a number of the guests 
were suddenly arrested, and the next day taken to the 

* The amount of money which Arcemboldus managed to get together 
by his sale of indulgences must have been considerable, as we learn 
that in Bergen alone, the king's man, J0rgen Hanss0n, contrived to seize 
a sum of no less than between 3,000 and 4,000 marks. 


market place and there put to death one after another. 
No less than eighty persons are said to have been thus 
murdered, including the Bishops Matthias of Strengnaes 
and Vincent of Skara and many of the chief men in 
Sweden. This barbarous slaughter is known in history as 
the " Bloodbath of Stockholm," and the storm of indigna- 
tion which it aroused was ultimately the cause of the 
downfall of Kristian. 

The strength of the king's forces, for the present, held 
the Swedes in check; but the next year they rose in 
rebellion under the leadership of the famous Gustav 
Yasa, they drove out the Danes, and finally chose him as 
their king. 

Kristian, during the progress of the struggle, demanded 
fresh supplies from Denmark. But now the end of his 
rule over that country was at hand. The nobles of Den- 
mark were leagued against him, and offered the crown to 
his uncle, Duke Frederick of Slesvig. It is only fair to 
Kristian, to say that in spite of his many crimes, he was 
very popular with the b0nder and the burgers of Den- 
mark, whom he had always protected from the rapacity of 
the nobles. But in this crisis of his fate no one seems 
to have made any movement in his favour, and Kristian 
himself appears to have made no effort, though he had a 
certain number of troops at his disposal, to retrieve his 
fortunes. He decided to seek safety in flight, and in 
April, 1523, he left Copenhagen for the Netherlands, 
taking with him his wife and family, and, unfortunately, 
his evil genius Sigbrit, whose ascendency over him had 
not in the least diminished, and was popularly ascribed to 

The tidings of the death of Archbishop Erik Valkendorf 
in Eome, do not seem to have reached the chapter at 
Trondhjem until the 30th of May, nearly six months 
after his decease ; but as soon as it became known to them 


they decided to lose no time in exercising their rights, 
and a couple of days after, chose their dean, Olaf Engel- 
brektss0n, as Erik's successor. The last archbishop of 
Nidaros was a Norwegian of an old noble family from the 
neighbourhood of Stavanger. He had studied at Eostock, 
and was a man of some learning, and of a very considerable 
amount of worldly wisdom, which was manifested by his 
desire to keep himself right with whatever party was 
uppermost in the State at the time. He was called upon 
to rule the Church at the most critical period of all its 
history, and unfortunately he was not the man for such a 
post at such a time. Had he been a strong archbishop, and 
one who knew how to act promptly in an emergency, the 
history of the Church in Norway might have been different, 
as will be seen later on. Immediately on his election he 
started for Eome, but instead of going via Copenhagen, 
where Frederick was now in power, he went to the 
Netherlands, and at Mechlines met the exiled Kristian II. , 
who was still (legally) sovereign of Norway, and swore 
allegiance to him. After this he proceeded on his way to 
Eome, where he was consecrated at the end of 1523. On 
his way back to Norway he travelled by Germany and 
Denmark, and visited King Frederick I. at Flensborg in 
response to his invitation. There seems no doubt that, to 
make himself quite safe with whichever king might reign, 
the new archbishop did homage there to Frederick, a trait 
in his character which does not exhibit him in a very 
pleasing light. He reached Trondhjem in May. 

Norway was placed in a rather peculiar position by the 
flight of Kristian II., who, though he had abandoned his 
throne, was still de jure king of Norway, until repudiated 
by the council, the Norwegians being under no binding 
obligation to accept Frederick (whom the Danes had 
proclaimed) as his successor. Another difficulty was 
that the head of the council, and the chief director of 

C.S.N. X 


affairs, in the case of a vacancy of the throne, was the 
archbishop, and at the time when Kristian fled the see 
was vacant. The two chief men in Norway were now 
Nils Henri kss0n of 0steraat (a spot at the entrance of 
the Trondhjem Fjord), who was a man of great wealth 
and power, especially in the north, and Olaf Galde, who 
possessed an equal influence in the Oplands and the south. 
Henrikss0n's wife was Fru Ingerd Ottesdatter, a woman 
who played an important part in subsequent events. By 
her Henrikss0n had no sons, but five daughters, all of 
whom were married to Danish noblemen, who occupied, as 
we shall see, most important positions in Norway. When 
Kristian fled, the council met and decided, during the 
vacancy in the see of Nidaros, to divide the government of 
the country between Henrikss0n and Galde, the former 
taking the north and west, and the latter, the south and 
east. There was, however, another powerful man in the 
country who represented the Danish interests, and whom 
we have met with before namely, Henrik Krummedike, 
the treacherous murderer of Knut Alfss0n, the head of 
the Norwegian party, in 1502. He had been a strong 
supporter of Kristian II., but seeing his cause was hopeless, 
he at once made overtures to Frederick, and became the 
champion of his cause in Norway. 

We now come to another man who exercised no small 
or unimportant influence on the history of this critical 
period namely, Vincent Lunge. He was a Dane of noble 
family, and a man of great learning; he had been pro- 
fessor of law in the University of Copenhagen, and in 
1521 was its rector. The studious atmosphere of a univer- 
sity life, however, did not meet with his wishes, and he 
abandoned it for the more exciting and dangerous paths 
of political life. In 1523 he came to Bergen to support 
the interests of Frederick, having first been to the north, 
where he married Margaret, one of the daughters of Nils 


Henrikss0n. In November of this year Henrikss0n (to 
whom it was intended to give over the command of the 
Bergenhus, the fortress and royal castle at Bergen), was 
dying, and on his death the bishops of Bergen and 
Stavanger decided that Vincent Lunge was the best man 
to whom to commit the care of the fortress, as after his 
marriage, he seemed to have identified himself with the 
Norwegian interests. Thus Lunge became one of the 
principal men in Norway, and a member of the council. 

Such was the state of affairs when the new archbishop, 
Olaf Engelbrektss0n, returned from Eome in May, 1524. No 
time was now lost in making arrangements for a successor 
to Kristian II. upon the throne. The council was called, 
and met in Bergen in August, with the archbishop at its 
head. Their first act was to renounce their allegiance 
to Kristian, and, the throne becoming vacant, they had 
to choose another king. Frederick was apparently the 
only candidate, but the council was not by any meaos 
prepared to elect him unconditionally. Yincent Lunge, 
who was naturally a supporter of his, was, however, quite 
as decided as the others in his determination to preserve, 
as far as possible, the entire independence of Norway as to 
internal affairs, while accepting the Danish monarch as 
king. In pursuance of this policy the council decided 
to draw up a manifesto, which was to be submitted to 
Frederick, and if he agreed to its terms, they were willing 
to tender him their allegiance. At the same time a letter 
was written denouncing Henrik Krummedike as an enemy 
of Norway. 

The manifesto of the council was at once dispatched to 
Frederick, in charge of Yincent Lunge, who met the king 
at Kibe, in Denmark. At that place, in November, 1524, 
Frederick I. accepted the proposed terms and affixed his 
seal to them. 

This manifesto followed mainly the lines of similar 


documents which had been issued by the previous Danish 
kings to Norway, and bound the king to the observance 
of terms which his predecessors had accepted but never 
kept. But in this new manifesto fresh conditions were 
inserted, in view of the advance of Lutheranism, which it 
is very necessary for us to note. 

After the usual promise to protect the Norwegian Church 
and to give freedom of election, &c., Frederick solemnly 
vowed that he would never permit heretics, Lutherans 
or others, to preach contrary to the faith of the holy 
Church ; and wherever such heretics were found in Norway, 
he would punish them with loss of life and goods. In 
addition to this he promised that appeals should not be 
permitted to Kome, before the Norwegian prelates had con- 
sidered the matter. It will be seen by the above that 
the bishops in Norway were alive to the danger which 
threatened them, and they desired to bind the king down 
very strictly, by a promise to check the spread of the 
doctrines of Luther, especially when they knew that the 
Danish kings, chiefly from political motives, had been 
inclined to favour the German reformation movement. 

The purely civil points in the manifesto were promises 
to rule according to the law of St. Olaf and the national 
customs, &c. He was not to claim the throne by here- 
ditary right, as it was now made an elective monarchy. 
The Orkneys and Shetlands were to be redeemed and 
restored to Norway, from which country they had been 
alienated without the consent of the Council. 

Frederick accepted these conditions to obtain the crown 
of Norway, but accepted them without (as his subsequent 
actions showed) the least intention of being faithful to his 

The king at this time was of the mature age of 53, and 
there was, therefore, less excuse for his deliberate breach 
of faith with the Norwegian Church. The only excuse 


for him was, that he was more or less in the hands of the 
Danish nobles and others, who hoped to profit, as they did 
largely, by the spoliation of the Church. The Danish 
party were determined, as soon as possible, to crush out 
the independence of Norway and to reduce it to the 
condition of a province of Denmark. On this account 
Yincent Lunge, who was now on the side of Norwegian 
independence under the Danish Crown, became very 
unpopular, and the court decided to get rid of him, if 
possible, and to place Danish nobles in command in all the 
Norwegian strongholds. The first step in this direction 
was to remove Olaf Galde (in 1527) from the charge of 
Akershus and to set a Dane in his place. Needless to say, 
this was entirely contrary to the terms of the manifesto 
issued from Eibe. 

The next year (1528) the king determined that the 
command of the fortress at Bergen, should be transferred 
from Vincent Lunge to Eske Bilde, another Danish noble, 
who had married a daughter of the notorious Henrik 
Krummedike. This change of command was carried out 
early the next year. 

Vincent Lunge was, however, allowed to hold many 
possessions in the north, and was further given the 
Nonnesaeter cloister at Bergen, which was seized by the 
king from the Antonius order. This cloister lay on the 
neck of land between the two small lakes to the south of 
Bergen, and Lunge quickly transferred it into a well- 
defended house for himself, and called it Lunge's Gaard* 
These two lakes now preserve his name, and are known as 

"We now come to the time when the Norwegian Church 
had to enter upon the conflict in which she was crushed, 
and when all the ancient possessions wherewith the piety 

* Some remains of the cloister may still be seen, including the door- 
way of the chapel. 


of her sons and daughters had endowed her from the 
earliest days, were to be swept away into the pockets of 
the king of Denmark and his needy courtiers. Never was 
there a more wanton spoliation than that which befell the 
Church of Norway, and never had religion less to do with 
it. The attack on, and the plunder of, the Norwegian 
Church was practically something entirely apart and 
distinct from religion. In other countries of Europe in 
Germany, Holland, Denmark, &c. the teaching of Luther 
had profoundly impressed the minds of the people, and 
they accepted the principles of the Eeformation, on 
thoroughly conscientious grounds. The abuses and cor- 
ruptions of the time had called aloud for reform, and when 
the various councils which had been held were found 
powerless to effect this, and the occupants of the Eoman 
See were men less and less likely to combat them, it was 
only natural that in the Teutonic races, the old spirit of 
independence should assert itself, and make an effort to 
cast off a yoke which had proved too galling. 

But it cannot be said with truth that there was in Norway 
any real desire for change. We have noticed before, that 
the Church in Norway had escaped many of the corruptions 
which prevailed in other lands, on account of its remote 
geographical position. It is quite true, of course, that 
it did not escape altogether, and that, especially after the 
desolations caused by the Black Death, there was much 
to lament over ; but to assert that the disestablishment and 
disendowment of the Church in Norway had any real 
popular support, would be entirely and altogether contrary 
to fact. The popular movements which we meet with in 
England during the middle ages, against the abuses of the 
Church, and the evil lives of many of the monks, had 
no counterparts in Norway, possibly from the very reason 
just stated. But the fact remains that in Norway there 
was no reformation movement whatever. No Wyclif was 


found among her parish priests ; no Lollards ever caused 
disquietude to the bishops; no Piers Plowman ever dreamed 
dreams or saw visions on the Norwegian hills. Priests 
and people alike lived contentedly within the fold of the 
holy Church. Its spoliation therefore was completely 
a political movement, and the work of a king who had 
solemnly pledged his royal word, a few years before, to 
do everything in his power to support the Church and to 
prevent the spread of the teaching of Luther. 

It was a very unfortunate thing for the Norwegian 
Church in this critical time, that the five sees were filled 
with men of very different calibre from many of their 
predecessors. Had they been men of power, it would 
hardly have been possible, that the wholesale destruction 
which went on from 1528, could have taken place. It 
would be unfair to assert that it was because they were 
more or less nominees of the Danish Government, for 
Erik Yalkendorf was a Dane, and he proved himself a 
strong and capable archbishop and a defender of the 
Norwegian Church's privileges ; and now the occupant of 
the see of Nidaros was a member of an old Norwegian 

It may be well here to call to mind the names of those 
who were the bishops at this time. Of the primate we 
have already spoken. 

The bishop of Bergen was Olaf Thorkildss0n, who was 
consecrated in 1523. He seems to have been the most 
feeble of all the prelates, and was unfortunately in the 
place where a very strong man was specially needed. He 
was, it is believed, personally a good man, but when the 
storm came, his only idea was to get away from it, and 
leave his unfortunate diocese and cathedral city to shift 
for themselves. 

Stavanger was filled by Hoskold Hoskoldss0n, who was 
consecrated in 1513. He was a graduate of Eostock. Like 


his brother of Bergen, he was timid and feeble, and was 
entirely at the mercy of the Danish nobles, who dominated 
the land. The occupant of the see of Oslo was a man of 
very different type from the bishops of either Bergen or 
Stavanger the unscrupulous and time-serving Hans Beff, 
who was consecrated in 1525. He had succeeded Hans 
Mule, who, as we have seen, forced Andreas Mus to resign 
his see in 1521, but Mule was not consecrated until 1524 
by Archbishop Olaf in Bergen. He, however, was drowned 
very soon after his consecration. Hans Eeff was a Dane, 
and had studied in Paris, and before his election he had been 
a canon of Nidaros. He was a very shrewd man of busi- 
ness, and was not willing to allow his opinions to interfere 
with his worldly prospects. 

The remaining diocese, that of Hamar, had as its bishop 
Magnus Lauritss0n, who was a man diligent and conscientious 
in the discharge of his duties, but otherwise not of any 
great power. 

Such were the rulers of the Norwegian Church when 
the struggle commenced in 1528, and in a few years after, 
with one ignoble exception, we find them all scattered, and 
the historic episcopate of Norway a thing of the past. 

We must turn again for a moment to the history of 
Denmark, in order to see the progress which the reforma- 
tion movement was making in that land. Frederick I., 
though posing as a defender of the faith in Norway, had 
always been inclined to the opinions of Luther, while his 
son, Duke Kristian, was openly a Lutheran. The prospect 
of the progress of the reformation movement, began to 
alarm the bishops and clergy in Denmark, and the question 
came before the national assemblies. In 1526 the king 
held a Diet, or, as it was called in Denmark, a Herredag^ at 
Odense, and at it he proposed that, instead of going to 
Borne for confirmation, the bishops should only apply to 
the archbishop of Lund, and the money thus saved should 


go to national defence. There was no special objection to 
this, on the part of the Herredag^ especially as it was but 
a return to ancient and lawful custom in the Danish Church; 
but then it was to be remembered that the see of Lund was 
vacant, and it meant that the king was to be the person to 
confirm the election of the bishops. 

The bishops, in return for this concession, asked the 
king not to grant letters of protection to any persons 
enabling them to preach, as it was their right to give such 
licence. Frederick was, however, very skilful in evading 
any direct answer to these demands; indeed, he denied that 
he had ever given such letters, and when again pressed on 
the subject, he managed to avoid a reply, and kept the 
bishops at bay until he left Odense. 

The next year another Herredag was held at the same 
place in August, and now the king's designs became more 
and more manifest. Still, he had to be cautious, because it 
was necessary that he should have the nobles on his side, 
and do nothing by which he should lose their support while 
the exiled King Kristian II. lived, whose popularity with 
the b0nder and towns-folk was a standing danger to 
Frederick. But notwithstanding this, it was clear that he 
intended to grant, at any rate toleration, to the Lutherans 
throughout his dominions, and this, in spite of the prelates, 
he was able to do, and to carry the Herredag with him in 
his reforms. What was decided practically established 
religious liberty and toleration for Lutherans, and gave 
permission to the priests and monks to marry, if they 
thought fit. 

It was only natural that these very revolutionary changes 
should excite the greatest hostility on the side of those who 
still held by the Eoman allegiance, for they at once 
opened the door for the spread in every direction of the 
tenets of the Lutherans, and the king's son, Duke 
Kristian, was a strong supporter of Lutheranism. In 


Denmark, at any rate, the reformed doctrines were wide- 
spread among the people, and the continual controversies 
between the nobles and bishops, prevented any effective 
opposition to them, on the part of the adherents of the 
old faith. 

As was only to be expected, it was not long before these 
changes in Denmark began to make themselves felt in 
Norway as well. Hitherto no teacher or preacher of 
Lutheranism had come to the country, but when the king 
began to grant letters of protection, they soon put in an 

In 1528, the year after the Herredag at Odense, the 
first preacher arrived in Bergen. His name was Antonius ; 
but beyond this we know little, and he seems to have 
devoted himself chiefly to the German residents in the city, 
and afterwards he was the priest of St. Halvard's Church. 
It would appear that the preaching of Antonius was attended 
with success, for we find that he required help, and in 
the next year, 1529, two more Lutheran teachers arrived 
in Bergen, with a letter from the king to Eske Bilde, 
announcing that he had granted his permission to them. 
The names of the new preachers were Herman Fresze and 
Jens Yiborg. It would seem that in the same year teachers 
appeared also in Stavanger. 

King Frederick in 1529 sent his son Duke Kristian to 
Norway, on a mission which had more of a political than 
ecclesiastical character. He was anxious that Kristian 
should be accepted as the heir to the throne of Norway, 
but at the time of his own election, in 15 24, the Norwegian 
Council had made it clear that they did not recognize any 
hereditary right to the throne. The duke held a meeting 
in Oslo, at which the archbishop and all the Norwegian 
bishops (except Hans Ben ) were conspicuous by their 
absence. The mission of Duke Kristian was a failure as 
far as the recognition of his rights was concerned, and 


instead of spending some considerable time in the country, 
and visiting Bergen, he left Oslo in September for Denmark. 

We must now turn our attention to the extraordinary 
attack which was made upon the Church in the city of 
Bergen and see the amazing and shameful way in which 
the bishop seems to have betrayed his trust. We have 
already seen that the Nonnesseter cloister had been secu- 
larized in 1528, and handed over to Vincent Lunge as his 
private residence. About the same time it would appear 
that the Dominican cloister, which stood near to the royal 
residence and the castle (Bergenhus), had been burned 
down. It is not quite clear how this came about, but it is 
believed that Vincent Lunge and the prior Jens Mortenss0n 
divided the spoils of the monastery between them and then 
set the place on fire.* The prior received compensation 
for the loss by a grant of some farms. Another act of 
spoliation at this time was the stripping of the Apostles' 
Church (the chapel royal) of all its valuables, and these 
Vincent Lunge handed over to the king on his visit to 
Denmark in 1530. 

It would seem that Lunge took this journey in order to 
try and regain the royal favour, but in this he does not 
appear to have been very successful. On his return to 
Bergen he tried, by a daring stroke, to regain possession 
of the Bergenhus or fortress. Eske Bilde was, as we have 
seen, placed in command there in 1529 by the king in place 
of Lunge, and was naturally his most formidable rival. 
Lunge, when he came back to Bergen, at once applied to 
Bilde to surrender the fortress to him, on the ground that 
he had received the command of it from the king during 
his stay in Copenhagen. Eske Bilde promptly declined to 
do any such thing without written authority, and applied 

* Lange, in his De Norske Klostres Historic, seems to make no doubt 
about this ; he also adds that the prior Jens Mortenss0n appears to have 
taken service in Vincent Lunge's household afterwards. 


to the king, who repudiated Lunge's statement and con- 
firmed Eske Bilde in his post. 

Now began the wholesale destruction of ecclesiastical 
buildings in the city of Bergen, which marked the rule of 
the Danish governors, and swept away many noble edifices 
which had adorned the town. This was especially the 
work of Eske Bilde, and it gained for him the unenviable 
title of Kirkebryder the puller-down of churches. 

Clustering around the Bergenhus, with the noble hall 
built by Sverre's grandson, Haakon Haakonss0n, there stood 
at that time a number of churches."* The first in importance 
was the cathedral, the greater Christ Church, so closely 
associated with the national history (second only in this 
respect to the Domkirke in Trondhjem), and the burial- 
place of kings and bishops. Then there was the little 
Christ Church, a short way from the cathedral, and of 
earlier date, having been built about the time the town 
was founded by Olaf Kyrre; in it rested the remains of 
St. Sunniva, which had been brought from Selje in the 
twelfth century. In the precincts of the royal palace 
stood the Apostles' Church, which was the most beautiful 
building in Norway. It was the third church which had 
borne the name. The first was of wood, and was destroyed 
by fire ; the second, of stone, was consecrated by Cardinal 
William of Sabina in 1247. Then in 1302 Archbishop 
Jon returned from Paris, bringing with him a "Holy 
Thorn," which he had received from Philip III. of 
France, and for this relic a third church, somewhat in the 
style of Sainte Chapelle in Paris was erected, and adorned 
with statues of the twelve Apostles. This church, like its 
predecessors, was the royal chapel in Bergen. The arch- 
bishop's palace and the residences of the canons completed 

* For a description of Bergen in the Middle Ages, see Dr. Yngvar 
Nielsen's valuable work, entitled, Bergen, fra de caldste Tider indtil 
Nutiden. Christiania, 1877. 


the ecclesiastical buildings, the Dominican cloister having 
been just burned down. Such were the buildings which 
now lay at the mercy of Eske Bilde. 

Here was a chance which a Cromwell might have envied 
for earning the title of Kirkebryder. But even Eske Bilde 
could hardly embark on this without some excuse, and a 
convenient one was found. It was discovered that these 
various churches interfered with the defensive works of the 
fortress, and that the exigencies of the public service 
demanded their removal. King Frederick, therefore, in 1 5 30 
ordered Eske Bilde to begin, and promptly the Apostles' 
Church became a thing of the past, and its treasures 
were carried to Denmark. The next to be attacked was 
the cathedral, but here even Eske hesitated. As a skilful 
soldier he saw that the great monastery of Munkeliv, on 
the opposite side of the harbour, would be a much better 
position for a fortress, than the one which he occupied, 
which was commanded on all sides by hills ; he was willing 
to leave the cathedral alone and build a new fort on the 
site of Munkeliv. His scheme, however, was not carried out, 
and the doom of the cathedral was pronounced. We might 
well wonder what the bishop of Bergen was doing at this 
time, and why he had not taken some very decided steps 
to have the Church's property protected, and to stop the 
destruction of churches and other ecclesiastical buildings, 
in which he would have had ample support in the ancient 
law of the land. But he did absolutely nothing, and was 
actually a consenting party to their destruction. In 
February, 1531, the bishop and the archdeacon made a 
bargain with Eske Bilde and others to permit the 
cathedral to be pulled down,^ along with the bishop's 
residence, on the ground that it was needed for the 
defence of the town, and in lieu of the cathedral, &c., 

* They abandoned it " of their free will, well-considered counsel and 
consent ... to be broken down and carried away." 


the bishop was to have Munkeliv for his cathedral and 
residence. This scandalous bargain having been made, 
the bishop actually issued an invitation to the people of 
the town and its neighbourhood, to come and help in the 
pulling down of his ancient cathedral church, and in May 
of this year, the place was levelled to the ground. These 
attacks on the Church in Bergen naturally emboldened the 
adherents of the Lutheran party, and, far from becoming 
popular with them for his acquiescence in the designs of 
the Danish nobles, the bishop was openly insulted in the 
streets. The Lutherans now seized upon the Kors Kirke 
(Church of the Holy Cross) and established the reformed 
service there. Not long after this, the German merchants 
put an end to the service in the Maria Kirke, and placed 
there a German pastor instead of the Norwegian priest, and 
in St. Halvard's Church the same course was adopted. 
These measures provoked reprisals, and an attempt was 
made to burn down the house of one of the German 

The feeble Bishop, Olaf Thorkildss0n had now taken 
up his residence in the Munkeliv cloister, from whence 
the Birgitta order had been expelled, and here he 
remained for a while without any attempt to save the 
Church in his diocese. It might naturally have been 
expected that when the attack was first made in the 
beginning of 1530, on the churches around the fortress, 
he would have appealed at once to the primate for aid, 
not merely as his metropolitan, but as the head of the 
council in Norway. But incredible as it may seem, it was 
not until the devastation was completed, that he informed 
Archbishop Olaf of what had taken place. What he might 
have done to assist his suffragan in the defence of the 
Church's property under other circumstances, it is hard to 
say ; but just at this time the archbishop had his hands full 
in his own diocese, for there, as well as in Bergen, attacks 


were being made on the property and privileges of the 
Church. The archbishop's principal antagonists were 
Nils Lykke and his mother-in-law, the well-known Fru 
Ingerd (widow of Nils Henrikss0n), whose eldest daughter 
had, as we know, married Vincent Lunge. Lykke had 
secured possession of the monastery of Tautra, and Fru 
Ingerd had got herself elected abbess of Eeins cloister, 
both entirely illegal acts, which afterwards received the 
royal sanction. Fru Ingerd and her party were nominally 
inclined to the Lutherans, but it seems probable that they 
adopted that course, merely out of hostility to the arch- 
bishop, and not from any conscientious motives. 

With this threatening state of affairs, and the evident 
intention of the king to consent to the secularization of the 
Church's property and to give free scope to the spread of 
Lutheranisin, the archbishop and others began to turn their 
thoughts to the exiled king, Kristian II., in the hope that 
he might prove a deliverer. The previous record of that 
monarch was not indeed an encouraging one. During his 
reign the attack on the monastic establishments had begun ; 
his manifesto on his accession he had disregarded in quite 
as flagrant a manner as Frederick had done ; and his con- 
duct during his government of Norway in his father's life- 
time, was not such as to inspire any confidence in him. 
Still there seemed no one else to whom the archbishop and 
his party could turn for help in this emergency; and besides, 
it was to him, that the archbishop had first sworn allegiance 
after his election to the primacy, and on his journey to 
Eome to be consecrated in 1523. 

Kristian II., after his flight from Copenhagen in 1523, 
had, as we have seen, taken up his residence in the Nether- 
lands with his wife and family, and also the notorious 
Sigbrit. There he was received with scant courtesy, on 
account of his having encouraged Lutheranism, and also for 
his having, after his marriage with Isabella, refused to 


abandon Dyveke, and his still being under the influence of 
her mother. Queen Isabella died in 1526, and left one son, 
Hans. While Kristian' s mother-in-law, the Duchess of 
Savoy, lived, her influence prevented Charles Y. from 
doing anything to help him, but after her death in 1530 
his prospects improved. A few months before, Kristian 
had had an interview with his imperial brother-in-law at 
Augsburg, and found him ready to give him some help, 
but not unconditionally. Before Charles Y. would do any- 
thing, it was absolutely necessary that Kristian should purge 
himself from any suspicion of being tainted with Lutheran 
heresy. Where his own interests were concerned, Kristian 
was quite ready to abjure any form of faith which the 
emperor might desire. Charles then entrusted to Cardinal 
Campeggio, the task of reconciling his unworthy brother- 
in-law to the Church, and before the cardinal, Kristian 
solemnly declared his abhorrence of all the doctrines of 
Martin Luther, and submitted with good grace to the 
severe penance which Campeggio imposed upon him, for his 
previous backsliding from the Catholic faith. 

Having thus made his peace with the Church and regained 
a measure of the favour of his powerful relative, Kristian 
awaited a favourable opportunity of making an effort to 
recover his lost dominions. King Frederick had always 
feared lest he should be attacked by Kristian, knowing 
how popular he had been with the people in Denmark, but 
without imperial support Kristian had not the means of 
equipping any force powerful enough to attack Denmark 
or Norway. He had, however, his agents, who were 
watching the course of events, and when he learned of the 
attacks which had been made on the Church in Norway 
and elsewhere, he began to think that the prelates would 
in spite of his previous record be ready to welcome him 
as a deliverer. 

It is difficult to say if the archbishop had been in any 


treasonable correspondence with the exiled king; on the 
whole it is probable he had not, but his conduct in 1531, 
before the arrival of Kristian, was, to a certain extent at 
any rate, open to suspicion. In May, 1531, King Frederick 
issued summonses for a Herredag to be held at Copenhagen 
in the June following, and to this the archbishop and 
bishops of Norway were duly cited. Eske Bilde, who, in 
spite of his love for destroying churches, seems to have 
been a more honest man than his rivals Vincent Lunge and 
Nils Lykke, was very anxious that the archbishop should 
be present at this meeting, and that he should come to 
better terms with the king. The archbishop, however, 
did not seem inclined to go, and in May he found a suitable 
excuse in a great fire which broke out in Trondhjem, and 
which destroyed some of the churches and almost again 
ruined the cathedral. This calamity sufficed to keep 
Archbishop Olaf at home; but the bishops of Bergen, 
Stavanger, and Oslo started for Copenhagen, and thither 
also went Vincent Lunge, Eske Bilde, Nils Lykke, and all 
the chief Danish nobles from Norway. 

This was the opportunity for which Kristian was waiting. 
His trusty men went through the country preparing the 
people for the revolt, and received much encouragement 
from the Church. They passed through the Oplands and 
on to Trondhjem and collected supplies, which were sent to 
Kristian in the Netherlands. By means of this money, 
and the help of the emperor, Kristian got together an army 
of 7,000 men, and a fleet of twenty-five ships, and at the end 
of October, 1531, he set sail for Norway. The voyage from 
Holland proved a most tempestuous one ; some of his ships 
were lost, and much of his treasure and artillery. He did 
not reach the Norwegian coast until November 5th, and 
the next day he issued an appeal to the people of Norway, 
in which he said he came to them as a deliverer and asked 
that representatives of the country should meet him at 

C.S.N. y 


Oslo, to which place he made his way, having written to 
the archbishop to meet him there. On his arrival at Oslo 
he found the fortress of Akershus in the hands of Gylden- 
stjerne, the Danish commander, who declined to give up 
the place until he had communicated with Frederick, but 
promised if he did not hear within a reasonable time, he 
would surrender. Kristian was foolish enough to agree to 
this, but it is also probable that, having lost all his guns, 
he found an attack would not be successful. 

The crafty bishop of Oslo, Hans Eeff, now found himself 
obliged to accept Kristian' s authority, and he authorized 
the clergy in his diocese to give up all the silver belonging 
to their churches, except what it was absolutely necessary to 
retain. This was largely done, and the churches were much 

The archbishop did not respond to Kristian's invitation 
to join him at Oslo, but contented himself with proclaim- 
ing him and sending his manifesto round his diocese. 
In January, Kristian wrote from Oslo to the archbishop, 
directing him if possible to seize Yincent Lunge and 
Fru Ingerd, but in this he was not successful, as they 
escaped to Bergen. 

Early in the month of January, 1532, Kristian, finding 
he could do nothing against the fortress of Akershus, went 
on an expedition against the Swedes, who had invaded the 
country near Baahus. This expedition was successful, and 
the Swedes were driven back. In the meantime, however, 
the brave defender of Akershus had not been idle. 
Finding that Kristian was absent, he, on January 21st, 
made a sortie from the fortress, and, crossing the ice, 
attacked the monastery on Hoved0en, and seizing the abbot, 
who was asleep in his bed, little dreaming of danger, 
burned the cloister, and carried off all the treasure to 
Akershus. When Kristian heard of this, he quickly 
returned to Oslo, and made another attack on the fortress, 


which was repulsed, and Gyldenstjerne now considered 
he was strong enough to hold out until help came in the 

It seems strange that Kristian should have wasted his 
time in the investment of Akershus, instead of consolidating 
his power in Norway, which was now nominally under his 
authority, but he seems to have always failed to act with 
energy, even when he had a sufficient force behind him. 

Meanwhile Frederick was busy preparing to crush his 
nephew. As soon as he heard of the invasion of Norway 
he saw it must be a struggle to the death with Kristian, 
and he set to work at once to gather his forces. The 
Liibeckers, at the end of November, 1531, sent him some 
ships and a promise of more help later on. Kristian had 
been wise in choosing the winter for the time of his attack 
on Oslo, as the ice in the fjord rendered it impossible for a 
Danish fleet to reach the town, and it was not until the 
spring that the expedition to relieve it could start. The 
months went by and Kristian remained inactive before 
Akershus. At last, on May 7th, Frederick's fleet, of 
twenty-five ships and 6000 to 7000 men, reached Oslo 
and relieved Akershus. Kristian then entrenched himself 
at Oslo, but the Danish forces set fire to his ships, and on 
the 12th he began negotiations for surrender. 

While this was going on, Eske Bilde sent Otto Stigsen, 
Thord Eoed, and others from Eergen to attack the arch- 
bishop in Trondhjem. He retired to his castle at Stenviks- 
holm, but the Danes set fire to the archbishop's palace and 
some of his farmhouses. 

Frederick had not come in command of the army and 
fleet sent to relieve Oslo, but gave the expedition into the 
hands of four men, to whom also he entrusted full authority 
to treat with the enemy. These were Knut Gyldenstjerne 
(the Bishop of Fyen), Nils Lykke, Yon Heiderstorp, and 
the brave defender of Akershus, Mogen Gyldenstjerne, 

y 2 


brother of the bishop. Along with these men he sent his 
secretary, with his royal seal, and gave them full authority 
to act in his name. 

The negotiations were prolonged between Kristian and 
the Danes, but finally it was agreed that Kristian was to 
be given a safe conduct to Copenhagen, in order that 
he might have an interview with his uncle Frederick. 
There can be no doubt that the four commissioners 
distinctly pledged themselves to this, and that if no 
definite agreement was made between the kings, Kristian 
should be brought in safety to Germany. But between 
the opening of negotiations for the surrender at Oslo 
and the month of July, it is said that Frederick sent 
two of his men with strict orders to Gyldenstjerne and the 
others, to make no terms with Kristian except absolute 
and unconditional surrender, and that when they reached 
Oslo the conditions, though agreed upon, had not been 
signed. Gyldenstjerne and the others declined to obey, as 
they had unlimited authority given to them, but on the 
other hand, they did not tell their victim of the king's 
fresh orders. 

On July 8th the betrayed man embarked for Copen- 
hagen, which he reached on the 24th. When he got there 
he soon saw the deceit which had been practised upon him. 
Frederick refused to see him, and he was not allowed to 
land. Still ignorant of his fate, he was taken nominally 
to Flensborg, where he expected to find the king ; but 
when the ship proceeded to the castle of S0nderborg. he 
saw he was betrayed, and burst into tears. 

At the beginning of his imprisonment another heavy 
blow fell upon him ; his only son, Hans, died at Augsburg 
in August, 1532, and now all hope of deliverance was 
gone. At S0nderborg he remained for seventeen years, at 
first treated fairly, but afterwards with great severity. At 
the end of that period he was removed to Kallundborg, 


where he was left until in 1559 death at last set him free 
at the age of seventy- eight years. 

The violation of the promised safe conduct was un- 
doubtedly an act of the greatest treachery, and for which 
we cannot acquit King Frederick. He had first given the 
four commissioners full authority and his royal seal, to 
sanction all that they did in Norway, and his messages 
sent when the negotiations were concluded (though not 
signed) could hardly be well set against this. The blame 
must, of course, be shared by those who refused to tell 
Kristian in time, of the message they had received, so as to 
give him an opportunity of leaving Norway for the Nether- 
lands, or some other safe place. It remains, however, a 
lasting stain on the character of Frederick, and that he felt 
his conduct needed explanation is shown by his letter 
addressed to the princes of Germany, in which he tried to 
defend himself.* 

In spite of the treachery shown towards him, and his 
long and weary incarceration, it is hard to feel much 
sympathy for Kristian II. During those twenty-seven 
years of imprisonment, he had ample time to reflect upon 
the terrible crimes which had darkened his life. In the 
silent watches of the night, the memory of his own harsh 
imprisonment of the hapless bishop of Hamar, must often 
have come before his mind, together with the recollection 
of the way in which he had broken the promises made at 
the time of his accession to the throne. Visions of the 
awful " Blood-bath of Stockholm " may well have filled him 
with horror. Those terrible words to a guilty conscience, 
" With, what measure ye meet, it shall be measured to you 
again," may well have rung in his ears. The long years 
of his weary imprisonment may (let us hope) have led the 
discrowned king in his old age to reflect upon the irreparable 

* C. Paludan-Miiller, " De f0rste Konger af den Oldenborgske Slasgt." 
p. 560. 


harm that he had done to the countries over which he 
had been called to rule, and have taught him that the 
highest glory of a king was to do justice and right, and 
that to keep faith with his people, was a more noble orna- 
ment than the triple crown which had once been his. 

With the surrender at Oslo all resistance to the authority 
of Frederick in Norway came to an end. Nils Lykke was 
sent from the king, with full power to deal with those who 
had been concerned in the rising. Frederick does not 
seem to have had any desire to deal severely with the 
rebels, or to drive the bishops and clergy to extremities- 
Nils Lykke came first to Bergen, and then with Yincent 
Lunge went to Trondhjem, where they negotiated with the 
archbishop, who still remained in his castle at Stenviksholm. 

Matters were at last finally arranged, and the arch- 
bishop, on again taking an oath of fidelity to Frederick, 
escaped with a fine of 15,000 Danish marks. 

Meanwhile Hans Keff, the Bishop of Oslo, had gone to 
Copenhagen, where he made his peace with Frederick, and 
after being, like the primate, mulcted in a fine, was taken 
back into the king's favour. The bishop of Hamar also 
escaped with a fine, and the bishops of Bergen and 
Stavanger, who had taken no part in the rising, were not 
punished in any way. 

The monastery of Hoved0en (which, as we saw, had been 
burned by Mogen Gyldenstjerne in January, 1532) was 
secularized, while a similar fate overtook the priory of 
Yeerne as a punishment for the help which these estab- 
lishments had given to Kristian II. 

Finally, at a meeting of the council held at Trondhjem 
in November, 1532, all renewed their allegiance to 
Frederick, and peace was re-established in the land. 
Frederick did not long survive his triumph over Kristian. 
He died at Gottorp on Maundy Thursday, April 10th, 
1533, after a short reign of a little more than eight years 


over Norway, during which time he had never been 
crowned. His reign over Denmark was only two years 

The manner in which he endeavoured to promote the 
spread of Lutheranism in his dominions, very highly 
incensed the bishops and clergy against him, and not 
without cause, when we remember that he had given a 
distinct pledge to both Norway and Denmark, at the time 
of his accession, in the Eibe Manifesto, to discountenance 
in every way the spread of Lutheran teaching. Of his 
very harsh treatment of the unworthy but betrayed 
Kristian II., we have already spoken. 



Interregnum The Strife in Denmark The Count's "War Duke 
Kristian successful Affairs in Norway Frederick, Count Palatine, 
a candidate Archbishop Olaf temporizes Vincent Lunge, Esko 
Bilde, and others go to Trondhjem Nils Lykke a prisoner there 
The Meeting at Trondhjem Vincent Lunge killed by the B0nder 
The Archbishop imprisons Eske Bilde, Hans Reff, and others 
The Archbishop sends out Forces on behalf of the Count Palatine 
They are defeated The Archbishop seeks to make terms with 
Kristian III. 

THE death of Frederick I. in 1533 was followed by a 
period of four years during which civil war raged in 
Denmark, and the crown of Norway was vacant. The 
government of the country was carried on by the council, 
under the presidency of the archbishop. Had he been a 
man of real power, he might at this time have succeeded 
in shaking off the Danish yoke, and regaining for his 
country the independence which had practically been lost ; 
but at the most critical moments he failed to act decisively, 
and it ended in the complete subjugation of Norway, ani 
the sweeping away of the ancient Church establishment. 

It will be necessary to sketch the course of events in 
Denmark and Norway during the interregnum. Frederick 
I. had been twice married, and by his first wife he left a 
son, Duke Kristian, who at the time of his father's death 
was thirty years of age. He was an open and avowed 
Lutheran. By his second marriage Frederick left several 
children, the eldest of whom, Duke Hans, was at this time 
thirteen years old. 

When Frederick died, parties in Denmark were divided 


between these two sons. Many of the nobles were in 
favour of Duke Kristian, but the bishops and the country 
people, as a rule, were supporters of Hans, who had been 
brought up in the Catholic faith. 

A special meeting of the Danish Council was at once 
called by the chancellor, and it was decided to postpone 
the election of a king until a joint meeting with the 
Norwegian Council could be arranged, and this, after a 
very considerable delay, was fixed for June 24th, 1534, 
at Copenhagen. 

When the news of Frederick's death first reached 
Norway, the archbishop summoned the council to meet the 
following August, in spite of the suggestion of Eske Bilde 
that it should be deferred, until a short time before the 
joint meeting, intended to be held the next year. Nothing 
was decided at the council, which met under the presidency 
of the archbishop, and matters remained unchanged. 

As the time for going to Copenhagen drew near, the 
archbishop began to hesitate, and finally only got as far 
as Bergen, when he should have been at Copenhagen. 
Meanwhile Eske Bilde and Yincent Lunge had started on 
their journey, the former by sea and the latter by land. 
As matters turned out, it was as well for the archbishop 
that he had remained at home. 

The Herredag at Copenhagen never met, for matters had 
taken quite a new turn in Denmark. In place of two 
parties, those of Duke Kristian and Duke Hans, there arose 
a third, and for a time it seemed as if it was to be the 
victorious one, both in Denmark and Norway. 

Kristian II. , the prisoner in S0nderborg, had, in spite of 
his many crimes, still a following in Denmark, and his 
party secured the powerful help of the city of Liibeck, 
which for commercial reasons was ready to render the 
needful aid to place Kristian once more upon the throne. 

They assembled an army under the command of Count 


Kristofer of Oldenborg, and with the aid of the Liibeckers' 
fleet, soon produced an entirely new state of affairs in 
Denmark. The count landed in Sjeelland on June 22nd, 
1534, Copenhagen declared for Kristian II., and the 
castle soon afterwards surrendered. Eske Bilde, all 
unconscious of this revolution, arrived at this moment in 
Copenhagen from Bergen, and was at once arrested, and 
remained a prisoner for nearly eighteen months. In 
a very short time Count Kristofer had all the principal 
islands and the province of Skaane in his power, and Duke 
Kristian's supporters were only to be found in Jylland. 
They were now forced to agree among themselves, and, 
abandoning Duke Hans, united in choosing Kristian as 
king. Vincent Lunge (who, having travelled by land, 
escaped the fate of Eske Bilde) joined Duke Kristian's party. 
The contending parties in Denmark now looked to Norway, 
and felt that the side which it supported would gain the 
upper hand. Now that Eske Bilde and Vincent Lunge 
were absent, Norway practically meant Archbishop Olaf, 
and the balance of power now lay in his hands. But he 
failed to rise to the occasion, and when he might have 
acted it was too late. Count Kristofer had now achieved 
his greatest success. Gustavus Vasa joined with Duke 
Kristian and the tide began to turn against Kristofer. 
In January, 1535, a defeat at Helsingborg lost him the 
Danish province in Sweden, and, Kristian having made a 
successful attack on Liibeck a short time before, the 
Liibeckers superseded Count Kristofer and appointed 
Albert of Mecklenburg in his place. Soon, however, the 
cause of Duke Kristian was everywhere successful in 
Denmark, and the struggle known as the Grevens Feide (the 
Count's war) came to an end. 

"We have now to consider the position of affairs in 
Norway. During the quarrel the country had remained 
neutral, and Kristian having won, his supporters were 


anxious that he should be at once acknowledged by the 
Norwegian Council. In February, 1535, Duke Kristian 
wrote to the council, but no decisive step was taken. The 
archbishop called a Rigsmfide for May, 1535, but this was 
first postponed, and finally never met. The supporters of 
Kristian in the south of Norway now wished to force the 
archbishop's hand, and in the month of May they issued a 
letter or manifesto, signed by Vincent Lunge, the bishops 
of Oslo and Hamar, and the chancellor, Morten Krabbe, 
accepting Kristian as king, provided he would respect all 
the old laws and customs of Norway. This they dispatched 
to the archbishop, hoping to secure his approval and that of 
the northern members of the council. But the archbishop 
was not yet ready to give way, and a new candidate 
appeared upon the scene. 

This was Frederick the Count Palatine, who was just 
about to marry the daughter of the imprisoned Kristian II. 
As Kristian' s son had died (in August, 1532) the Emperor 
Charles Y. adopted Frederick as a candidate to represent 
his unfortunate brother-in-law. The emperor wrote to the 
archbishop from Spain in April, 1535, and the Count 
Palatine also from Heidelberg a few months later; but 
Frederick lost much time in making a move, and then his 
marriage, which took place in September, delayed him still 
longer. To these communications Archbishop Olaf adopted 
a temporizing attitude. He knew that the count and the 
emperor would be favourable to the cause of the Church, 
but they were a long way off, and Kristian of Denmark 
was very near at hand. Meanwhile Frederick went on 
with his preparations. 

Now the party of Kristian felt that they must take more 
decisive steps before the emperor and his protege should 
make a move. Vincent Lunge and his friends at Oslo had, 
as we have seen, formally accepted him as king, and were 
waiting for the northern chiefs and the archbishop to agree. 


Kristian now sent to Norway Klaus Bilde and Eske Bilde 
(who had been just released from prison) with instructions 
to do their best to advance his cause. Early in December 
they reached Oslo, and decided at once, in spite of the 
opposition of Vincent Lunge, who wished to ignore the 
archbishop, to proceed to Trondhjem. Along with them 
went Lunge and Hans Beff, the bishop, and, after being 
joined en route by the bishop of Hamar, the party came to 
Trondhjem at Christmas, 1535. 

Before we advert to the remarkable events connected 
with this meeting, it i well to mention that another 
leading man in Norway was already in Trondhjem, but 
not of his own free will. This was Nils Lykke, 
Vincent Lunge's brother-in-law. His wife Elina having 
died in 1532, he was very anxious to marry his deceased 
wife's sister, Lucie, which was, of course, contrary to 
the law both of Church and State. He appealed to the 
archbishop in order to get the necessary dispensation; but 
Olaf temporized, and although inclined to look leniently on 
the offence, yet he could not openly approve what was so 
entirely contrary to the Church's law. The conduct of 
Nils Lykke very much enraged his brother-in-law, Vincent 
Lunge, and he was very angry with the archbishop for his 
failing to take action against Lykke. Meanwhile the latter 
wrote to his friends and to Duke Kristian for their support, 
but received no encouragement. He had been living with 
Lucie as his wife, and she bore him a son early in 1535, 
who, however, only lived a couple of months. 

Now the archbishop began to discover if he had not 
known it before that Lykke was more or less tainted with 
Lutheranism, and would favour the Danish as opposed to 
the Norwegian national party ; and so, to bring Vincent 
into a more friendly state of mind towards him, he caused 
Nils Lykke to be arrested in July, 1535, and imprisoned 
him in his castle at Stenviksholm. Next month he was 


accused before the council of heresy and other misdemea- 
nours, and sentence was given against him. The penalty 
of death to which he was liable was, however, not then 
exacted, and he remained a prisoner in the archbishop's 
castle. Under these circumstances naturally Nils Lykke 
was to take no part in the coming council. Another 
vacancy was caused by the death in May, 1535, of Olaf 
Thorkildss0n, the weak bishop of Bergen, who, after 
witnessing the destruction of his cathedral and the practical 
establishment of Lutheran teaching in Bergen in 1531, took 
refuge in Voss, and remained there until death ended his 
troubles. No new election was made immediately, but 
afterwards Geble Pederss0n, the archdeacon, was elected, 
but was never consecrated, and conformed to the wishes of 
the king, as we shall see later on. 

Such was the state of affairs when the Danish king's 
representatives and the other leading men, met at Trondhjem 
in the last days of December, 1535. At this time there 
seems to have been gathered together in the city a very 
large number of the principal b0nder of Tr0ndelagen, and 
although the famous 0re Thing of the ancient days was 
now never called to approve of the choice of a king, it would 
seem that some of the old spirit lingered among the b0nder. 
But it was the council, with all its officials and Danish 
noblemen, who now chose the king of Norway instead of 
the freemen at the Thing. When the council met, Yincent 
Lunge, and the others who had already in Oslo decided for 
Kristian of Denmark, urged his election by the assembly, 
and further demanded the payment of skat to him. This 
claim was resisted on two very legitimate grounds first, 
that the king had not formally been chosen ; and, secondly, 
that no payment of skat could be claimed until the king 
had by the usual manifesto sworn to govern according to 
the laws of Norway and to preserve inviolate the rights 
of both Church and State. 


It would now appear that the b0nder in Trondhjem 
appealed to the archbishop for his guidance, and he seems 
to have called a meeting of them at the palace, and there 
he explained matters to them with regard to the proposed 
election and the payment of skat. It is hard to know the 
exact truth of what followed, but it would seem that the 
people clamoured for the arrest of the bishops of Oslo and 
Hamar and Klaus Bilde, and the death of Vincent Lunge 
and the chief Danish supporters of Kristian. Bushing 
from the meeting they went to the house of Vincent Lunge, 
who was at once killed,* and Klaus Bilde and Bishop Hans 
Befl: of Oslo narrowly escaped with their lives. They were, 
however, arrested by the archbishop, and, along with Eske 
Bilde, placed in safe keeping at Tautra. It is very hard to 
know how far the archbishop was responsible for the 
murder of Vincent Lunge. The later Danish writers do 
not hesitate for a moment to accuse him of it, and to assert 
that he was drunk when he gave an order for his death, 
but had endeavoured to recall it when too late. The most 
reasonable supposition seems to be, that there was a genuine 
outbreak of the people, and that it is very likely they were 
inflamed by the speech of the archbishop, and, although he 
did not intend them to do so, they at once attacked and 
killed the chief man of the unpopular Danish nobles, who 
was especially hated in the north. Very probably the 
archbishop intended to imprison and hold as hostages, all 
the chief Danish men then in Trondhjem, for he had, but 
a very short time previously, received the letters from the 
emperor and the Count Palatine, announcing the pro- 
posed expedition to Norway, and the new candidate's 
prospects would be vastly improved by the captivity of 
all the leading Danish nobles in the country. It was a 

* It is probable that Kristofer Throndss0n Rustung, the archbishop's 
principal follower, was the leader in the attack on Vincent Lunge which 
ended in his murder. 


great chance for the Count Palatine, but he was not able 
to avail himself of it. 

Archbishop Olaf was not a great or very scrupulous man, 
but we cannot believe that he would have permitted the 
murder of his chief opponent if he could have prevented it. 
Another crime still more mysterious was laid to his charge 
by later Danish writers, and with even less ground, and that 
was the death of Nils Lykke, who was said to have been 
smothered soon after Vincent Lunge's death in the castle of 
Stenviksholm. The circumstances connected with his death 
are very obscure, and there seems no evidence that the 
archbishop was responsible for it. As Lykke had practically 
been condemned to death, there does not appear to have 
been much sympathy for him, either amongst Danes or 

The archbishop had now to all intents and purposes 
burned his boats, and there was nothing left for him but to 
do his best on behalf of the Count Palatine, and hope for his 
speedy arrival in Norway. In pursuance of this policy the 
archbishop sent out two expeditions, one to the south over 
the Dovre and through the Oplands to Oslo, and the other 
to Bergen. 

The object of the first, which was accompanied by the 
bishop of Hamar, was to attack and, if possible, seize the 
fortress of Akershus, and on the way to spread the news 
that the Count Palatine was coming with a powerful force 
supplied by the emperor. The governor of Akershus 
(Gyldenstjerne) sent off in haste for help to Kristian in 
Denmark. Meanwhile he was able to hold out, and the 
archbishop's forces had to retreat in March, 1536. 

The expedition to Bergen, which was under the command 
of Kristof er Throndss0n, fared still worse. Thord Eoed, who 
still held the Bergenhus (which Eske Bilde had placed in 
his hands), was warned of the attack and induced the 
people of the town to accept Kristian III. In order to 


strengthen his position he destroyed the great monastery 
of Munkeliv,^ on Nordnses, the peninsula which formed 
one side of the harbour, lest it should be used (as it 
might probably have been) as a fortress, and when 
Throndss0n came he found he could do nothing. He then 
opened negotiations with Eoed, but he was seized, whilst 
under promise of safe conduct, in the house of Geble 
Pederss0n, the bishop-elect, and sent off to the fortress at 

Thus both of the archbishop's attempts ended in failure, 
and there was no appearance of Frederick the Count Palatine. 
Kristian had strengthened his position very much by making 
peace with the Ltibeckers, and protecting himself on the 
south, while he pressed forward the siege of Copenhagen, 
which alone held out against him. The archbishop now 
saw that his best course was to try and make terms with 
Kristian. He accordingly released his prisoners, and pro- 
ceeded to negotiate with them in order to obtain favourable 
terms. To this they were willing to accede, and Klaus 
Bilde promised to let bygones be bygones, if the arch- 
bishop would agree to the choice of Kristian III. 

Klaus Bilde now went to King Kristian and con- 
veyed the news about the archbishop's willingness to 
surrender. Kristian was still vainly endeavouring to 
subdue Copenhagen, and he felt that time was pressing, 
for the Count Palatine's expedition would soon be ready 
to start, and with Copenhagen unsubdued, he could not 
safely go north. He therefore was apparently very 
glad to find that the archbishop would accept him, and 

* After the Birgitta order had been driven out, the cloister was 
granted to Geble Pederss0n, who resided there. Thord Roed asked leave 
to station some men in the church tower, and managed to convey into 
it some barrels of tar, which were set on fire, and the great buildings 
were destroyed. See Lange's Norske Klostres Historie, pp. 313 315. 
No traces now remain of this famous foundation, which stood on what 
is now an open space called Klostret. 


agreed to a meeting being held in Bergen on July 29th, 
at which the archbishop promised to be present, and 
Kristian ordered that a safe conduct should be issued to 
him. This gathering, however, never took place, and 
when the time came that it should have been held, 
Kristian III. was in a position in which he could afford 
to despise the archbishop, and proceed with his plans for 
making an end of the ancient constitution both of Denmark 
and Norway, as regards the Church. 

On June 1st the bishop of Stavanger (Hoskold Eos- 
koldss0n), Eske Bilde, Geble Pederss0n (the bishop-elect 
of Bergen), and others issued a letter in which they 
asserted their readiness to accept Kristian III. as king 
of Norway, and thus almost all the country, except the 
north and part of the Oplands, proclaimed its willingness 
to receive the Danish monarch as its king. 




The Emperor unable to help Frederick Count PalatineCopenhagen 
taken by Kristian III. Episcopacy suppressed in Denmark, and the 
Property of the Bishops seized The Recess Norway made a 
Province of Denmark Archbishop Olaf sends in despair to Holland 
for help His ignoble flight from Trondhjem, April 1st, 1537 
The Bishop of Hamar taken a Prisoner to Denmark The Bishop 
of Stavanger imprisoned The Bishop of Oslo secures the King's 
favour and is made a Superintendent Conclusion. 

WE now come to the day which saw the destruction of 
the ancient Church of Norway and the national inde- 
pendence of the land. Church and State, which had been 
so closely connected there, more so perhaps than in most 
countries of Europe, were now to lie helpless at the foot of 
the conqueror. The Church founded by the two Olafs, 
and which had flourished so vigorously for so long a time, 
was to be swept away, and the country in its civil aspect 
made but a mere province of Denmark. 

Events moved with great rapidity after June, 1536, and 
it is little less than amazing the way in which, by the will 
of one man, such an ecclesiastical and political revolution 
could have taken place. 

As the events of these months are so important, it is 
necessary we should consider them in detail. 

We have seen how in the early months of the year 1536 
Archbishop Olaf, after the failure of his attacks on both 
Akershus and Bergen, was convinced that no aid was to 
be expected from the Count Palatine and the Emperor 
Charles Y., and so decided to make the best terms he could 


with Kristian III. But matters were not at the moment 
in such a desperate condition with respect to the count. 
Indeed, but for an unforeseen event, he might have arrived 
in Norway with a very formidable force, and have com- 
pletely changed the whole aspect of affairs. Unfortunately 
for the count, however, the outbreak of a war between 
Francis I. of France and the emperor, and a sudden attack 
of the Duke of Guelderland, disconcerted the emperor's 
plans for assisting his nephew, and the forces which had 
been collected for the invasion of Norway were required 
elsewhere. A fleet of twenty - five ships had been 
assembled in the Netherlands, but was useless, as there 
were no men ready to embark. 

Kristian III. now saw that if, in this emergency, he 
could recover Copenhagen his position would be secure. 
He accordingly redoubled his efforts to capture the 
town. The inhabitants, left without help from the 
emperor, were at last forced to yield. On July 29th 
(the feast of the patron saint of Norway) the town 
capitulated, and Kristian had thus the whole of Denmark 
under his rule. 

In Norway the archbishop was in despair; his only 
chance of succour seemed to have failed him, and as a 
last hope he dispatched his trusty Kristofer Throndss0n* 
to the Netherlands, to see if there was any prospect of 

* Throndss0n or Rustling, after the archbishop's death, was taken into 
the king's favour. His daughter Anna was married or betrothed to 
Earl Bothwell, who met her in Copenhagen in 1560, but he deserted her 
in the Netherlands. Later, in 1563, she followed him to Scotland, 
remaining at the Court until 1565, when she went to Norway. On 
Bothwell's flight from Scotland he was driven by storm to Norway, 
and taken a prisoner to Bergen. Here Anna called him to account 
for his conduct towards her, and he had to give her a ship, and under- 
took to pay her a sum of money. Bothwell was then taken to 
Denmark, where he died in prison. Anna lived for a long time after- 
wards at Seim, in Kvindherred, where she was known as Skottefrwn, from 
her connection with Earl Bothwell. 



help from that quarter. The position of the primate was 
indeed a difficult one. There was only one of his 
suffragans who could be said to be on his side. The 
bishop of Oslo had agreed to recognize Kristian, so had 
the bishop of Stavanger. The see of Bergen was vacant, 
but the man who had been chosen by the chapter, was an 
open ally of the Danish monarch. Only the bishop of Hamar 
was ready to aid the archbishop, but he possessed little 
influence outside his own immediate district. Had Arch- 
bishop Olaf been a man of greater power and force of 
character, and one who had made himself loved and 
respected, he might still have rallied the bulk of the clergy 
and people to his side ; but he was not the man to head a 
great national movement, even had one been possible at 
this time. His vacillation in moments when he should 
have stood firm, his alternate oaths of allegiance to different 
kings, and his inability to rule in the high office which he 
held both in Church and State, left Norway defenceless and 
without a champion of her rights. 

Now that Copenhagen had fallen, and the attention of 
the emperor had been diverted by the war with France, 
Kristian felt himself secure. He knew but too well that 
Norway was at his mercy; all the strongholds of the 
country Baahus, Akershus, and Bergenhus were in his 
power ; all the chief men were on his side, and he could 
afford to delay crushing the only antagonist he had left 
Archbishop Olaf. 

How far Kristian III. was sincere in his zeal for 
Lutheranism it is hard to determine. He had been, for 
some years before his father's death, a supporter of the 
Lutheran preachers in the country, and possibly may have 
had a genuine belief in their tenets; and at any rate 
it cannot be said of him that he had ever given a solemn 
assurance, as his father had done, to suppress the teaching 
of the German reformer ; but his action now left him open 


to the charge of professing such opinions, in order to enrich 
himself and his followers. 

He now determined on a bold stroke, which would destroy 
for ever the power of the Church in Denmark, and over- 
turn the ancient ecclesiastical order of that kingdom. 

When Copenhagen fell into his hands, he found that 
his troops were clamouring for their pay, and that his 
treasury was an empty one. Money must be found to 
satisfy these demands, and the nobility were not likely to 
be able to afford him the necessary assistance. In this 
emergency he decided to seize the episcopal revenues for 
the bishops also declined to help and to transfer them to 
the royal coffers. On August llth he called together 
a meeting of his principal officers, and there unfolded to 
them his plans, which at any rate had the merit of 
simplicity. It was simply this to arrest all the bishops 
he could lay his hands on, and to annex the property 
of their sees. The officers readily fell in with this 
suggestion, and by breakfast time the next morning the 
bishops of Skaane, Sjeelland, and Eibe, were taken prisoners 
and placed in the castle. Kristian then called together 
the lay members of the council, and they were forced 
to agree to the king's plans.* They signed a declaration 
in which it was announced that for the future the 
government of the kingdom of Denmark should not depend 
upon " either archbishop or other bishops, but the govern- 
ment of the kingdom of Denmark shall be and remain, 
with his royal Majesty and his successors, kings in 
Denmark, and with the temporal council of the kingdom, 
and with their successors.' 7 The council further pledged 
themselves, that no bishop hereafter should have any part 

* An interesting account of these proceedings has survived in a letter 
written by Johan Pein, a Prussian admiral in the service of Kristian, 
to Duke Albert of Prussia. See C. Paludan-Miiller's Deflrste Konger 
af den Oldenborgske tilcegt, p. 620. 


in the government of the country, unless it was with the 
consent of the general council of the Church in Germany 
and elsewhere. 

In order to give the appearance of a religious movement 
to this scandalous military coup d'etat, it was further 
added that they would not oppose "the right preaching 
of the Holy Gospel and the pure "Word of God." 

The desire of the king for the furtherance of the Gospel 
was seen, by his at once arresting the archbishop of Lund, 
Torben Bilde, and the Bishop of Koskilde, and in a month's 
time every bishop in Denmark had been cast into prison. 

Having thus accomplished a revolution, the king pro- 
ceeded to make the Rigsdag, or diet of the country, assent 
to his action. It met in Copenhagen on the 15th of 
October, 1536, and lasted for fifteen days. The result was 
the issue of two documents of the very first importance 
the Eoyal Manifesto and the " General Becess," or statute 
and they set forth plainly what was to be the new policy 
both with respect to the State and the Church. 

The manifesto was shorter than those usually issued by 
the Danish kings, but the omissions were very significant. 
All the usual promises to defend the rights of the Church 
and the privileges of the bishops and clergy were left out, 
and in place of them we find these words : " We will and 
shall, above all things, love and worship Almighty God 
and His holy Word and doctrine, strengthen, increase, 
advance, maintain, protect and defend it, to the honour 
of God and to the increase of the holy Christian faith." 
It was clear from this that Kristian intended to proceed in 
the ecclesiastical revolution which he had initiated in the 
month of August, and that the measure which was meted 
to the bishops in Denmark would very soon be extended 
to Norway. 

But what followed in the manifesto showed also that 
the king intended not merely to overturn the Church in 


Norway, but that he made up his mind to crush out all 
semblance of national independence as well. The third 
article of the manifesto states, that " because the kingdom 
of Norway is now so bereft of power and wealth, and 
the people of the kingdom of Norway are not able alone to 
support a lord and king for themselves, and this same 
kingdom is yet bound to remain for ever with the crown of 
Denmark, and most of the council of the kingdom of Norway, 
especially Archbishop Olaf , who is now the greatest man in 
the kingdom, within a short time has twice, with the most 
part of the council of Norway, fallen from the kingdom of 
Denmark, contrary to their plighted faith. We have 
therefore promised and vowed to the council and nobles of 
the kingdom of Denmark that, if God Almighty so ordain 
it, that this same kingdom of Norway, or any of its 
dependencies, castles, or districts, should fall under our 
authority, or be conquered by us, so shall they hereafter be 
and remain, under the crown of Denmark, as are one of 
these other countries, Jylland, Fyen, Sjaelland, or Skaane, 
and not hereafter be or be called a separate kingdom, but a 
dependency of the kingdom of Denmark, and under its 
crown always. But if any strife should arise from this, the 
council and people of the kingdom of Denmark shall be 
bound faithfully to help to support us in it.' '* 

Thus by one stroke was the ancient independence of 
Norway swept away, and its liberties ruthlessly disre- 

The other document, the " General Becess," is, from an 
ecclesiastical point of view, of course, the most important, 
for it meant the utter subversion of the ancient Church in 
Denmark and the substitution of the king's " evangelical 
superintendents " in the place of the bishops. 

This document begins by stating that the late dissensions 
were caused by the bishops not agreeing with the nobles, 
* C. Paludan-Miiller, as before, p. 628. 


and because they had refused to join with them in the 
election of Kristian III. 

The bishops were to be replaced by evangelical super- 
intendents, who were to teach the Gospel to the people. 
Any person opposing this order was to be punished by loss 
of life and property. The revenue of the various sees was 
to be confiscated to the crown, and all rights of patronage 
(except that possessed by the nobles) were to pass to the 
king. The cloisters were to remain untouched for the 
present, until the king and the nobles decided their fate, 
and the occupants to be unmolested, but free to leave. 

Tithes were still to exist, and were to be thus allocated 
one-third for the parish priest, one-third for the Church, 
and one-third for the king, (who out of them was to pay 
the new evangelical superintendents), and for the keeping 
up of the schools. 

Such was the import of this document, which was a 
wholesale measure of confiscation of the Church's property, 
and which necessarily involved the complete separation of 
the Church in Denmark from the rest of the Catholic 
Church. It will be noted that it was the king who was 
the principal gainer by this act, and also that it seems to 
have been aimed mostly at the bishops, whose existence as 
an order in the Church was terminated, and whose incomes 
were swept into the royal treasury, for doubtless the new 
superintendents were provided with very different incomes 
from that of the bishops in the olden days. 

In this "Becess" no mention was made of Norway, but as 
soon as its terms were known, it was plain to the Norwegian 
prelates, the treatment which was in store for them ; and 
it was clear that unless help came from the Count Palatine 
and the emperor, the days of the Church of St. Olaf were 
numbered. In October Kristofer Throndss0n came back 
from his errand to Holland, and with him four ships ; but 
these were filled with neither men nor money, and were 


only sent in order to provide the archbishop with a means 
of escape when all hope was lost. When he learned that 
Frederick's expedition was not ready to start, the arch- 
bishop made one last appeal for aid, but in this case, his 
trusting for the help of the count or the emperor, was like 
trusting "upon the staff of a bruised reed," for the help 
never came. 

Kristian III. contented himself with directing Eske 
Bilde to seize the revenues of the vacant see of Bergen 
and use them in the same way as in Denmark. Thus 
matters remained for the winter of 1536 7; the Church 
lay powerless before the king and his nobles, who only 
waited for the advent of spring to come and spoil their 
prey. During the winter months Eske Bilde's men had 
driven the archbishop's adherents out of S0ndm0re and 
Eomsdal, but want of both men and money prevented their 
following them up to Trondhjem. 

Kristian, to make all secure, before sending his forces 
north, managed to arrange a truce with the emperor for 
three years, from May, 1537, and in this agreement a special 
clause was inserted, to provide for the safety of the 
Norwegian primate ; but this was not needed. 

The last archbishop of Nidaros now saw that nothing 
could save the situation. There was no help to be had from 
any quarter. His two expeditions had been failures, and all 
the strongholds of Norway were in the enemy's hands. It- 
would be perhaps unfair to judge Archbishop Olaf harshly 
at this moment, but he was not the man, unfortunately, for 
the time in which he was called to rule. He had no one 
to support him, and there seemed no alternative but flight. 
The ships which had been sent from the Netherlands were 
lying at Trondhjem; into these the archbishop collected 
all the treasures he could find of the cathedral and other 
churches, as well as the archives of the kingdom, and, going 
on board, set sail on April 1st, 1537. 


He was not the only archbishop who had fled from 
Trondhjem, or Nidaros of the olden days, but Olaf 
Engelbrektss0n was a very different type of man from Arch- 
bishop Ey stein, or even Erik or Jon Eaude. The faith 
and order of the Church was not in question in their days, 
as it was in 1537, and from the point of view of either 
Catholic or Lutheran, it would have been a nobler thing if 
the head of the Norwegian Church had stood bravely at his 
post, and awaited in his cathedral city, the day when he 
would have been called upon to endure imprisonment, and 
the loss of all his earthly possessions, in obedience to the 
mandate of the Danish king. It was not until May 1st 
that, after a long and weary voyage, Archbishop Olaf 
arrived safely in the Netherlands. He had left a garrison 
in his castle at Stenviksholm ; but within a few weeks of 
the archbishop's flight Thord Eoed from Bergen reached 
Trondhjem, and the castle soon after surrendered, and 
with it the last shadow of opposition to the Danish king 
vanished from Norway. 

Kristian III. had a force ready to leave Denmark for 
Norway as soon as the winter was over, and it started 
from Copenhagen in April, and reached Bergen on May 
1st, the very day the archbishop arrived in the Netherlands. 
Here it was joined by Eske Bilde, who then with it pro- 
ceeded to Trondhjem, and received over the archbishop's 
castle at Stenviksholm. 

No time was now lost in coercing any who remained 
faithful to the old state of things. Trondhjem having 
been subdued, and the archbishop having fled, the next 
attack was on the bishop of Hamar. He had been, as we 
have seen, one of the most zealous supporters of Kristian II. 
in his unlucky campaign, and had been heavily fined 
in consequence ; he was also a supporter of the Count 
Frederick. After Stenviksholm had surrendered, Truid 
Ulfstand, who commanded the force sent from Denmark, 


left Trondhjem and went at once to Hamar. The bishop 
had determined to make a strong resistance, and had 
prepared his palace for a siege ; but at the last his courage 
failed him, when he saw the force which Ulfstand had 
brought with him, and after an interview with the Danish 
commander he agreed to surrender. On June 23rd he 
was led away a prisoner. "We have a truly pathetic account 
of the departure of the last bishop of Hamar from his home 
by one who witnessed it : 

"As Herr Truid and the bishop went together to 
Strandbakken, he fell on his knees and thanked God in 
heaven for every day he had lived. Then he bid good- 
night to the canons and the priests, then to his cathedral 
and cloister, then to his chief men, to the common people, 
both townsmen and b0nder, entreating them all to pray 
heartily for him, and said he hoped he would soon come 
to them again. But added, c God our Heavenly Father, 
if not before, grant that we may meet one another in 
heaven.' This prayer he uttered with many tears and 
added, < Yale ! Vale ! Vale ! ' " * 

The old bishop never saw Hamar again. He was taken 
to Denmark and kept as a semi-prisoner at Antvorskov 
cloister, where he died in 1543. 

There were two more bishops still left. Bishop 
Hoskoldss0n of Stavanger had the year before, along with 
Eske Bilde and others, approved of the election of Kristian 
III. He was a timid man, and hoped by this to avert the 
hostility of the king against all members of the episcopate. 
Through Eske Bilde he sent Kristian a present of a silver 
bowl, and as long as he (Bilde) remained in power the 
bishop was left alone. But the year after he seems to have 
been imprisoned by Thord Eoed in Bergen, where he soon 
afterwards died. 

* From a description of Hamar in " Thaarup's Magazin," quoted by 
Bang, p. 359. 


The remaining bishop was Hans Beff of Oslo. "We have 
seen what sort of a man he was, time-serving and crafty, 
and always ready to make the best terms he conld with the 
winning side. He had already accepted Kristian, but in spite 
of this he was carried to Denmark by Ulfstand, after he 
had seized the bishop of Hamar. When in Denmark Hans 
Keff used his time well. Being not overburdened by any 
special religious convictions, he was able to assure King 
Kristian, of his zeal for Lutheran doctrines, and, what was 
even of more importance to the king, he was ready to make 
a complete surrender of all the temporalities of his see into 
the king's hands, and then offered to Kristian and his heirs, 
" as he valued ' his souPs salvation,' true and faithful 
allegiance for all time to come." 

Under these circumstances the king saw fit to reinstate 
him as bishop or evangelical superintendent, of the diocese 
of Oslo, and further, to show his zeal for " God's pure 
Word," the king added to Oslo (already a full burden for 
one man) the diocese of Hamar, which had been left without 
a chief pastor. Hans Eeff did not remain long in his new 
capacity as Lutheran superintendent; he died in the 
summer of 1545, and next year we find a new man, 
Anders Matson, in his office. 

There is only one more diocese of which we must 
speak, namely, Bergen. We have seen that after Olaf 
Thorkildss0n's death in 1535 the archdeacon Geble 
Pederss0n was chosen as his successor. This man was of 
a good family in Norway, and had studied in Alkmar and 
Lou vain, where he met Vincent Lunge. In 1523 he was 
in Eome, where he remained for some time, and was very 
indignant at the abuses which he saw every where in that city. 
He seems to have always been favourable to the principles 
of the Eeformation, and when the king decided to have his 
own kind of bishops he was quite willing to accept the 
nominee of the Bergen chapter to act as bishop of that 

I i" 

< "c 



important diocese. In 1537 Pederss0n went to Denmark, 
where Bugenhagen had come in order to " consecrate" the 
new Danish superintendents who were to take the place of 
the imprisoned bishops. By him Geble Pederss0n was set 
apart for the management of the Bergen diocese, and, for a 
time, for that of Stavanger as well. We are told he was 
the only one of those thus set apart by Bugenhagen, who 
made him a gift afterwards. Pederss0n's offering was a 
substantial present of wine, and the famous Lutheran 
on accepting it, exclaimed, " Nonne decem mundati sunt, et 
nemo reversus est, nisi hie alienigena."^ Geble Pederss0n 
lived until 1557, when he died in Bergen. 

Thus the ancient Church of Norway lay helpless and 
wounded at the feet of her conqueror, who for the sake u of 
the Holy Gospel and the pure Word of God" (as he expressed 
it at the time of the coup tfetat) had imprisoned or driven 
away her bishops and seized on her revenues. Her natural 
leaders failed her in the hour of her trial, and among the 
general body of the clergy and laity, there was no one 
ready or able to strike a blow on behalf of the Church of 
St. Olaf and Eystein. 

Archbishop Olaf did not long survive his exile. In May, 
1537, he came to Brussels. By the truce concluded between 
the emperor and Kristfan III. the personal safety of the 
archbishop was secured, and he retired to Lierre, in Brabant. 
Kristian made claims upon him for the treasures both of the 
State and the Church, which he had carried away with him 
in his flight from Trondhjem, and the family of Nils Lykke 
demanded an account of certain valuables of which they 
alleged the archbishop had charge. The latter he admitted, 
but before restitution was made, Olaf Engelbrektss0n, the 
twenty-seventh and last archbishop of Nidaros, had passed 
away. On March 7th, 1538, he died at Lierre. 

* "Norske Samlinger," Vol. I., quoted by Nissen, p. 222, and 
L. Daae's G&istliges Kaldelse. 


We have seen the fate which befell the other members of 
the episcopate in the Norwegian Church ; exile, or imprison- 
ment and death, had been their portion, with the one ignoble 
exception of the time-serving Hans Beff. The historic 
episcopate which had come to Norway, first from England, 
was lost for ever, and a Lutheran establishment took the 
place of the ancient Catholic Church of Norway. 

Having gained their purpose and seized on the property 
of the Church, the Danish kings showed little anxiety to 
promote the spread of the doctrines of Luther, and for a 
generation or more, so far as they were concerned, Norway 
might have relapsed into heathenism. The new evangelical 
superintendents were named to carry on the oversight of 
the ancient bishoprics, but even with the best intentions 
on their part, they were practically helpless. The old 
priests of the Catholic Church were left, as a rule, undis- 
turbed in their parishes during their lifetime, and when 
they passed away, untrained and untaught Lutheran pastors, 
often men of very indifferent character, were placed in 
charge of their parishes. The new superintendents in 
many instances did their best to remedy this state of things 
by establishing Latin schools, where the future clergy 
might be trained, and gradually they succeeded in sending 
faithful men among the people. But in the evil days 
which followed upon the events of 1537, many of those who 
were sent to minister to the people were unworthy of 
their calling, and the records of the times tell of frequent 
conflicts between them and the b0nder, which in more 
than one instance ended in bloodshed. 

It was not until the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
in the days of Kristian IV., who seems to have had a 
genuine regard for the welfare of his Norwegian subjects, 
that something of the old religious instincts revived among 
the people of Norway, and efforts were made to again 
beautify the churches, and to supply them with suitable 


ornaments and plate, in the place of what had been either 
devoted to the cost of Kristian II.'s expedition, or pillaged 
by the orders of Kristian III. 

We have now traced the history of the Holy Catholic 
Church in Norway, its foundation, vigorous growth, decline, 
and fall. To English people its history cannot fail to be 
of interest, as from England mainly came its first teachers 
and bishops, and its two great kingly " nursing fathers " 
were so intimately associated with the Christianity of the 
British Isles. Had that connection with England, which 
was so close in the end of the tenth and the whole of the 
eleventh centuries, been maintained, and Oxford or 
Cambridge, instead of Eostock and Copenhagen, been later 
on, the universities of the Norwegian bishops and priests, 
then it might have been that the Eeformation would have 
followed on the lines of the English Church, and not that 
of Northern Germany. Eut events determined otherwise, 
and the loss of the historic episcopate snapped asunder the 
link which bound Norway to the Church in which Olaf 
Trygvess0n had been baptized and confirmed, and from 
which the great missionary bishops of his day, and of 
St. Olaf s, derived their orders. From henceforth they 
drifted asunder, after centuries of close intercourse and 

As it was with the Church, so was it with the State. Its 
consolidation coincided very closely with the introduction 
of Christianity, and at first both grew together, in the 
closest and most intimate union. It is true that later on, 
as we have seen, the same fierce battle between them, which 
was fought out in other nations, was also waged in Norway. 
The days of Haakon Haakonss0n, in which Norway 
reached the zenith of its power as a sovereign State, was 
also the commencement of the Church's greatest prosperity, 
and in the disastrous year of 1537, both Church and State 
were involved in a common ruin. 


In Norway, Church and State were perhaps more closely 
associated than in any country in Europe. In the period 
before the hereditary succession to the crown was finally 
established, the bishops had the preponderating voice in 
the choice of the king ; and the primate not merely ranked 
next to the king as in other lands, but when the throne 
was vacant, the archbishop was ex-officio ruler of the country 
until a new monarch was chosen. 

From 1537 onwards a dull lethargy crept over the land, 
and lasted for well-nigh three hundred years, until the old 
spirit of freedom was breathed once more upon the dry 
bones of Norway's nationality, and it again stood upon its 
feet, and claimed its place as a sovereign and independent 
State, among the nations of Europe. 

We cannot better close our history than by quoting 
the words of one who was an eye-witness of the almost 
irreparable injury inflicted on his native land, by the 
revolutionary changes brought about by Kristian III. 
and his followers. 

Absalon Pederss0n* wrote (some thirty years after the 
events we have last narrated) in his "Norges Beskrivelse " 
these sad but true words : 

" The churches and cloisters which our forefathers built 
we have pulled down and destroyed ; there where our fore- 
fathers led out to battle twenty thousand men we can only 
bring two thousand. Our forefathers continually made 
warlike or mercantile expeditions to other lands, whilst 
to-day no one will venture from the town or district in 
which he was born. From the day when Norway fell 
under Denmark, it lost the strength and power of its man- 
hood, and became old and grey-headed and a burden to 
itself. Yet a day may come when Norway may once more 
awake from sleep, if a ruler is vouchsafed to it, for in the 

* He was a native of Sogn, and chaplain of the Castle in Bergen, 
and a lecturer in Theology. 


nation there is still surviving some of the old manhood and 

The patriotic Norwegian did not live to see the awaken- 
ing he longed for. It was not for two hundred and sixty- 
seven years after he wrote these words, that the long, long 
sleep was ended and the new life began. 

C.S.N. A A 



THE identity of this man has heen the subject of considerable 
dispute among historians. William of Malmesbury, in his work 
" De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae," has a list of bishops 
who had been monks of that famous foundation in the time of 
Edgar " Qui sequuntur fuerunt episcopi tempore Edgari regis in 
diversis locis." The fourth name, in William's list, is Sigefridus 
" Nonas Aprilis obiit Sigefridus Norwegensis Episcopus monachus 
Glastoniae" and he mentions a bequest left by him of four 

If we are to take William literally, we must conclude that this 
bishop lived somewhere between 959 and 975 ; but, on the other 
hand, William only gives the day of his death (April 5th), and not 
the year, and some of those whom he names outlived the period 
during which Edgar reigned. 

It may be well to examine briefly the theories which have been 
put forth as to who this Sigefridus was. 

Absolon Taranger, in his most interesting and valuable work, 
Den Angelsaksiske Kirkes Inflydelse paa den Norske, believes that 
he must be the bishop that Haakon the Good invited from England, 
to help him in his attempt to introduce Christianity. But it must 
be remembered, that it is not quite certain that any bishop came at 
that time, for although Snorre in the " Heimskringla " undoubtedly 
mentions a bishop, the older records in the Agrip and Fagrskinna 
only speak of priests. Again, Haakon's attempt was made in 
the year 950, which is nine years before the time of King Edgar. 

Dr. Konrad Maurer, in Die Bekehrung des Norwegischen Stammes 
zum Christenthume, believes (and his opinion is shared by Munch 
and Keyser) that William's Sigefridus is the same as Sigurd 
Monachus, who lived in the second half of the eleventh century. 



Lappenberg identifies him with Sigefrid, the apostle of Sweden. 
This Sigefrid is believed by some to be identical with Olaf 
Trygvess0n's court bishop of the same name, who, after the battle 
of Svolder, is said to have gone to Sweden, where he worked with 
much success. 

A. D. J^rgensen, in Den Nordiske KirJces Grundlceggelse og 
fprste udvikling, a work of much learning and research, has another 
person still, whom he thinks to be identical with William's 
Sigefridus namely, Sigurd, Knut the Great's court bishop at 
Nidaros. This man, it will be remembered, was the one who incited 
the people to oppose St. Olaf on his return to Norway, before 
Stiklestad ; and after the saintship of Olaf had been established, 
he left the country. 

With such a conflict of opinion it is very difficult, if not indeed 
impossible, to come to any conclusion. The objection which has 
been raised against Taranger's view, that he is too early, as 
Haakon's attempt was made in 950, seems not altogether con- 
clusive, as it is at any rate within ten years of Edgar's time ; 
while Sigurd the monk is considered by his supporters to have 
worked in the second half of the eleventh century, which would be 
at least seventy-five years after Edgar's reign. Taranger's bishop 
(if, however, any " bishop " went from England to Haakon, which 
is not clear) is at any rate the nearest in point of time to the reign 
of Edgar. 

Next to him would come Olaf Trygvess^n's Bishop Sigurd, who 
is most probably the same as Siegfrid the apostle of Sweden, 
whom Lappenberg claims as William's " Sigefridus." Olaf's 
bishop doubtless came from England, and quite possibly from 
Glastonbury, though we are not told so. J^rgensen is very con- 
fident in claiming Knut's court bishop as the Glastonbury monk, 
and if we do not take William's chronology strictly, it is quite 
possible that Knut's bishop was the one mentioned by him. 
We know that Knut was frequently at Glastonbury, and also 
that Bishop Sigurd, according to all accounts, was the founder 
of the Benedictine monastery on Nidarholm, afterwards called 

If the chronology can be still further stretched, we have the 
claims of Sigurd Monachus to be the Glastonbury monk, and, 
when supported by the authority of such great names as that of 
Keyser, Munch, and Maurer, they must not be lightly disregarded, 


but the period in which he lived is at least twenty years after 
the latest name in William's list.* 

We have thus three Sigurds or Sigefrids working in Norway 
with the early Christian kings : all appear without doubt to have 
come from England. If Haakon's bishop was the Glastonbury 
monk it would add another to the list. If J0rgensen's theory 
that Sigurd the monk and Knut's Bishop Sigurd are the same man, 
we reduce the number a little, and make it, at any rate, possible, 
if not probable, that he was William's "Norwegensis Episcopus." 
The different date of the death of the apostle of Sweden (Feb- 
ruary 15th) appears fatal to his claim. Taranger's weakest point 
seems the doubt that clearly exists whether Haakon ever asked 
for a bishop as well as priests. 

Though the question is an interesting one, we fear it must be 
left undecided one way or another, and it seems impossible to say 
with certainty that we can identify exactly, any of the Sigefrids 
with the monk of Glastonbury, who died on April 5th, and gave a 
benefaction of vestments to the great foundation of the West. 

* Dr. Konrad Maurer's views will be found in his Die Belcehrung des 
Norwegischen Stammes, Vol. II., 565. 



OF the old wooden churches of Norway those which were built 
in what is known as the " stav " style at once attract the atten- 
tion of foreigners on account of their curious and often very 
beautiful construction. There are no churches exactly like them 
in other parts of Europe, and there has been a good deal of con- 
troversy as to their origin, in which every possible detail of 
construction and ornamentation has been considered. It would be 
impossible here, to give more than a brief summary of the various 
points of importance without entering too far into detail. As 
there does not appear to be any work on the subject in English, it 
may be well to give a short note mainly on Professor L. Dietrich- 
son's most valuable and interesting work, De Norske Stavkirker.* 

It has been roughly estimated that Norway in the Middle Ages 
possessed about 1,200 churches, and of these some 600 can either 
be seen or traced. Of these about 300 were wooden churches, 
and Dietrichson considers that nearly all of them were " stav " 
churches, and points out that in most mediaeval documents where 
wooden churches are mentioned the wording makes this clear. 
These stavkirker were spread all over Norway, and are especially 
found in the Oplands and on the fjords, while stone churches are 
more frequent on the weather-beaten coast and islands. Of the 
form of these remarkable buildings much has been written, and it 
will be sufficient for the present purpose to indicate quite generally 
their main features. 

The church generally consisted of a nave, a chancel, and a semi- 
circular apse, and was surrounded by a sort of cloister (svalgang, or 

* Kristiania, 1892. 


omgang), which was generally open except at the east end, though 
occasionally, as at Hedal, it was completely closed in. 

The entrances to this cloister were opposite the doors of the church 
itself, and were often in the west end or under one of the many 
gables of the roof. From the cloister roof there sprang the wall 
of the side aisle, then came another roof, and then the nave wall 
supporting the largest roof, which was crowned hy a pointed tower 
often placed on a sort of cross-roof. The chancel was similarly 
constructed, though the dimensions were smaller, and there was 
often no tower, while the apse did not generally exceed two 
stories, and was semi-circular in shape, often finished off in a 
small round tower. 

The churches varied very much in size and in construction, a 
few of them having one transept, but the majority were oblong in 
shape. Out of a list of seventy-nine churches given by Dietrichson 
only four had a transept, and the areas covered ranged from 
3,696 to about 400 square feet. The ornamentation externally 
consisted chiefly in the " dragon heads " on the gable extremities 
and the carving on the door pillars, which was often of wonderful 
intricacy and richness. The origin of the dragon head ornamenta- 
tion has been much disputed ; some writers (e.g., Dahl) trace 
them to the dragon heads common in the Viking ships, while 
Nicolaysen and others are inclined to believe that both the ships' 
beaks and the dragon heads are the representation of the fabulous 
creatures of northern mythology. It seems, however, to be very 
likely that the ships' beaks were the actual source of the orna- 
mentation, as dragon heads were used on them long before any 
stavkirker were built ; also, in a country where the best woodworkers 
were shipbuilders, these would be in request for the erection of 
wooden churches. Professor Dietrichson, with a view to collecting 
materials for his book, in 1884 made a careful personal survey of 
the wooden churches which then existed in the North European 
countries between the Volga and the Thames, in the course of 
which he collected much valuable information. 

Before giving his conclusions as to the origin of the stavkirke, it 
may be well to enumerate the main distinguishing features of the 
buildings in question. The curious roof and gable system is 
perhaps the most noticeable externally, while closer examination of 
the walls will show them to be curiously constructed of upright 
planks set into a sort of framework of beams. In buildings made 


of horizontal logs, the walls support as well as close in the sides of 
the building, while in the stavkirker the walls only serve the 
latter purpose, most of the weight being borne by the pillars at the 
corners. The construction of these walls is simple and effective, 
the corner posts are fixed to the bottom beam, and the planks, 
which are tongued and grooved, fit into each other and into the 
corner posts. These planks are put in at the two ends first, and 
when there is only room for two more (in the middle) a change is 
made in their treatment, the last but one being slightly wider at 
the bottom than the top, and the last plank having a tongue on 
both sides to fit the two grooves and being wider at the top than 
the bottom so as to form a wedge. This last plank is then driven 
in and tightens the whole frame, so that when the top beam is 
fitted into its place the wall is very strong and compact, and needs 
no nails or pegs to hold the planks in their places, though cross 
beams are sometimes added on the inside to give it additional 

This system gives the churches the name of stavkirker, stav 
meaning a rounded post or pillar. Amongst other peculiarities 
may be mentioned the svalgang, or omgang, as the cloister was 
called, and the use of " L " pieces of solid wood (knar) to join pillars 
or beams inside the church. These pieces of wood were sometimes 
placed one inside the other and cut so as to form arches, and are 
often found between the pillars of the nave and the wall of the aisle, 
placed so as to make a sort of " unfloored triforium." Several 
writers are of opinion that the stavkirker are of Slavonic origin, as 
there was a considerable connection with Norway and Gardarike 
and Vendland about the date when many of these churches 
were built. J. C. C. Dahl considers that the shape of these 
churches is Byzantine in its origin, and has permeated through 
Kussia and the Slav lands to the North ; he does not consider that 
the English churches had any influence on the North, and entirely 
omits the Irish group of wooden churches. 

Nicolaysen is opposed to this view, and holds that the stavkirker 
of Norway are, and have always been, unique, and have no connec- 
tion with others except perhaps in Great Britain and Ireland. 

Professor Dietrichson, after examining the various wooden 
churches of Northern Europe, divides them roughly into three 
groups : 

1. The Western Group : Originating in the Roman Churches 


and spreading over Western Europe, receiving additions and modi- 
fications in various countries. All these churches were frame 

2. The Eastern Group ; Originating at Byzantium and spreading 
over Eastern Europe. All these churches were built of logs laid 

3. The Central Group, combining the two former groups. Found 
in Bohemia, &c. These churches are partly built of horizontal 
and partly of vertical timbers, the latter (reisvaerk) being used for 
higher parts of the building, in the towers, &c. 

An examination of the existing Kussian wooden churches shows 
that they are all built in the blockhouse or horizontal style, which 
was used in domestic architecture of both Norway and Russia. In 
addition to this there are the following differences : 

a. The Norwegian churches are langkirker, i.e., long and 
rectangular, while the Russian are many sided and sometimes 
nearly round. 

b. The windows in the Russian are square or rectangular, while 
in the stavkirker the windows, if any, are generally round ; and 
the Russian churches had no side aisles. 

Both Norwegian and Russian had the cloister or svalgang, but 
those of the latter were seldom open or arcaded. 

The conclusion arrived at is that the Russian as well as the 
Hungarian and West Slavonic churches had no influence on the 
Norwegian, though there are several points in which there is a 
seeming similarity. The reisvcerk German churches are the 
nearest of the eastern group to the stavkirker, but they differ in 
the fact that their sides are made of planks nailed to the cross- 
beams, and not mortised into them. No old wooden churches now 
exist in Denmark, and as that country was Christianized from 
Germany, it is probable that the churches were of the German 
pattern. Dietrichson treats of the wooden churches of Western 
Europe at considerable length, and lays great stress on the 
influence of the Irish missionaries on the style of the churches 
in England and the West of Europe. 

The Irish method of building (which was called Opus Scoticum 
or Mos Scotorum) seems to have been as follows : A framework 
was made of beams, supported at the ends by posts, and in it 
were set split trunks of oak with the flat side in and the round out, 
the interstices being filled with clay or mortar. 


No old wooden churches still survive in Ireland, but from various 
documents some information can be obtained. Dietrichson (p. 88) 
quotes Concubran's Vita St. Monenae, whose church was built 
" juxta morem Scotticarum gentium " of flat hewn planks. Also St. 
Bernardi Vita St. Malachiae, where Bangor Cloister Church (built 
1149) is said to have been " of beautiful Irish work of smoothened 
planks firmly joined." Bede, in Eccles. Hist. III. 25, describes 
the church built by Finan in Lindesfarne as being made " after the 
manner of the Scots . . . not of stone but of hewn oak and 
covered with reeds." Maclear (" The Celts ") says that the 
monastic churches in early times were often made of wood and 
called duirthech, or house of oak, and it is probable that the 
original buildings at lona were of this kind. 

On the Continent there were many examples of similar buildings, 
such as St. Martin's at Rouen (" Gregory of Tours," Op. Vol.IV. 41, 
V. 2), St. Boniface's Chapel at Geismar, and the old wood minster at 
Strassburg, which (see Kreuser, Der Christliche Kirchenbau, I. 332) 
" was built of half tree trunks, the rough sides of which were 
turned outwards and the spaces between them filled with earth, 
chalk, or other filling." 

Dietrichson identifies this " Opus Scoticum " with the primitive 
stav construction, of which the only extant example is to be found 
at Greensted, near Ongar, in Essex. In this church, which is 
most interesting as being the only survival of Anglo-Saxon wooden 
churches, only the side walls and parts of the west end are left of 
the original building, and these are constructed "more Scotorum" 
of half trees let into beams at the top and bottom, and joined to 
each other with strips of wood, while the interstices are filled with 
a sort of cement. 

There are several points of difference between this church and 
the earliest Norsk stavkirke, but the method of constructing 
the walls is the same ; the frame system seems to have existed 
though the top and bottom beams were renewed when the 
church was restored, but it is impossible to see how they were 
joined to the corner posts, of whose present existence Dietrichson 
did not seem to be aware, though he was convinced that they did 
once exist. Dietrichson considers that Greensted is a specimen 
of that style of church building from which the Norsk stavkirker 
take their origin. As Greensted Church probably dates from 1012, 
it is therefore a good deal older than the oldest Norsk stavkirke 


(Urnes, c. 1100), and there is a considerable difference between the 
two. Urnes is more elaborate, and has side aisles, while Greensted 
has a plain nave, and the roof of Urnes shows the curious Norsk 
construction, which was probably not found in the original roof at 
Greensted. It is true that stav work was known in Norway before 
Christianity, but " the impulse came from the place whence in the 
Viking times the North took the important elements of its orna- 
mentation, namely, from Ireland and the Anglo-Saxon countries." * 
So much for the wall construction. The roof and gable system 
seems to have been the outcome of the climatic conditions of 
Norway, where the old Anglo-Saxon thatch roof would be of little 
use on account of the heavy snowfall and frequent storms. Hence 
the Norwegians developed a system of steep roofs and short walls, 
which give the stavkirke its peculiar interest and beauty. The 
steep roof would prevent snow from lying on it, and the short 
perpendicular walls would minimise the resistance to the wind, 
while the frequent gables would serve the same purpose by offering 
a triangular instead of a rectangular surface. There are several 
points of resemblance between the construction of these roofs and 
that of the ships of the period, many of which are mentioned by 
Bruunf in his Norges Stavkyrkor. The method of joining cross- 
beams with "L" pieces of solid wood, sometimes rounded to form 
part of an arch, is peculiar to Norway, and is found in boats and 
stavkirker ; this is corroborated by Viollet le Due, who says J that 
the use " de bois courbes " belongs to Northern people and their 

The svalgang, or cloister, is not peculiarly Norwegian, being 
found under various forms in Hungary, Silesia, Russia, and 
Bohemia, and being in use in domestic architecture before it was 
transferred to the stavkirker. 

The stavkirker would thus seem to be a product of a rather 
composite nature, the original method of building the walls 
coming apparently from the " Opus Scoticum " of Great Britain 

* Dietrichson, De Norske Stavkirker, p. 165. 

t He also compares the peculiar floor work of the stavkirker to the deck 
of a ship. 

J Dictionnaire raisonne de V architecture franfaise du XI.* au XVI. e siecle, 
Vol. VII., p. 38. The similarity between boat and roof construction is also 
noticed by Gottfried Semper in Der Stil, and Valtyr Gudmundss0n considers 
that this roof construction is of Norwegian origin. 


and Ireland, the later form taken by the stavkirker being the 
result of modifications introduced to suit the climate of Norway, 
the tools, the methods, and the experience of the builders. These 
modifications have made the stavkirke almost unique, and Norway 
may claim to have reached in them " the crowning point of the 
mediaeval art of wooden church building." 

There are many interesting points which are beyond the scope 
of this note, such as the origin of the ornamentation of door pillars 
and the capitals, which has been much disputed, while the con- 
nection, if any, between the stavkirke and the old hov, or heathen 
temple, has also given rise to some controversy. 

Unfortunately for Norway, reckless destruction, or often want 
of care, has left her only about twenty-four fairly well-preserved 
specimens of these curious churches, whose peculiar beauty seems 
in a remarkable degree to suit their natural surroundings. 

The following list of authorities taken from Professor Dietrichson's 
book may be of interest to those who wish to pursue the subject 
further : 

NICOLAYSEN, N. Norske Bygnmger fra Fortiden, Kristiania, 
1860 1880 ; Mindesmcerker of Middelalderens Kunst i Norge, 
and his articles on tk Hov and Stavkirker " in the Hist. 
Tidsskrift., II., Vol. VI. 

BRUUN, JOHAN. Norges Stafkyrkor, Stockholm, 1891. 

DIETBICHSON, L. Eiendommelighederne ved Stavkirkernes Con- 
struction, in the Nordisk Tidskrift for Vetenskap Konst og 
Industri t Stockholm, 1887 ; also Constructions en bois de 
I 'architecture Norvegienne au moyen age, in Vol. XXXIX. of 
" L'Art," Paris, 1885. 

I have to thank Professor Dietrichson for his kindness in reading 
these notes, and making some valuable corrections. 0. W. 

Since writing the above, I have received some particulars of 
the old wooden belfry at Brookland (Kent), which in many points 
resembles a stavkirke. Its roof is in three parts, one above the 
other ; its framework has the long corner posts, and rests on 
stiller (cross beams), while its perpendicular walls are of reisv&rk, 
which is nailed to the beams as in the German churches. 






SIGURD (OR SIGEFRID) . . Olaf Trygvess0n's Mis- 
sionary Bishop left 
Norway for Sweden, 

GRIMKELL . . . .St. Olafs companion 

last mentioned in 1046. 









Knut the Great's Bishop 
left in 1031. 

. 1066 (?) apparently the 
first Diocesan Bishop. 
. 10671072. 
. Died probably 1139. 


. Died 1151 on his way 

from Rome. 
. (Translated from Bergen) 




ARCHBISHOPS continued. 





















1189 resigned 1205. 
1450 (elected), confirm 

15231537 (died 1538) 

The bishops up to Adalbert (1066) cannot, of course, 
strictly speaking, be said to be bishops of Nidaros, as there 


was no diocesan episcopacy in the early times ; but as 
their work was mainly carried on in that part of the 
country, their names are usually included in the Nidaros 
list. The exact order, and the names as well, are not 
certain. The list given above follows J0rgenss0n in Den 
Nordiske Kirkes Grundlceggelse og f0rste udvikling. 

i s 
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ngeborg, d. 1318 
. Erik of Sweden' 

m. Duke of Me< 

m. Ingeborg of 

m. Duke of Po 






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B B 



Aanund, Jacob, 76, 80, 83 

Aasta Gudbrandsdatter, 60 

Abingdon, 69 

Absalon, Abp. of Lund, 167 

Adalbert of Bremen, 101, 103 

Adam of Bremen, 21, 34, 69, 78, 

98, 126, 127 
Adolf of Slesvig, 275 
Adrian IV., Pope, 139, 147 
Adrian VI., Pope, 301 
Agder, 46, 59, 247 
Agnes, 225, 276 
Akershus, 228, 291, 300, 322, 323, 

335, 340 

Albans, St., 130, 258 
Albert of Mecklenburg, 330 
Albert of Prussia, Duke, 341 
Albrekt of Mecklenburg, 250, 251, 


Alexander II., Pope, 103 
Alexander III., Pope, 147161 
Alexander V., Pope, 267 
Alexander VI., Pope, 297 
Alexander III. of Scotland, 218 
Alexius I., Emp., Ill 
Alexius III., Emp., 172 
Alfiva (^Ifgifu), 9193 
Alfss0n, Knut, 306 
Alkmar, 348 
Althing, 55 

Anastasius IV., Pope, 139 
Anders Matson, 348 
Andover, 41 

Andreas, Bp. of Oslo, 219 
Andres Plytt, 218 
Ansgar, 20, 21, 33 
Antonius, 314 
Antvorskov Cloister, 347 

Amund Sigurdss0n, 271 

Amsterdam, 300 

Aquitaine, 102 

Arcemboldus, John, 302 

Arne, Bp. of Stavanger, 223 

Arne, Bp. of Bergen, 230, 231 

Arne, Einarss0n, Abp., 243, 244 

Arvefil, 125 

Asatro, 3 

Asbj0rn of Medalhus, 27 

Aser, 3 

Asgaard, 3, 4 

Asgaut, 102 

Askell, Abp., 266 

Astrid, 40, 76 

Athelstan, 15, 23 

Audfin, Bp. of Bergen, 240 

Augsburg, 324 

Augustinians in Norway, 130 

Autbert, 20 

Ave Maria introduced, 143 

Avignon, 231, 260 

^Elfheah (St. Alphege), 41 

Baahus, 242, 322, 340 

Baard Guttormss0n, 163 

Baglers, The, 172 

Barlaam's and Josafat's Saga, 

Basel, Council of, 281 

a Becket, Thomas, 147, 246 

Bede, 72 

Bene, 191 

Benedictines in Norway, 130 

Bergen (Bj0rgvin) founded, 106 ; 
Bishopric of, 119; 133, 138, 
145 ; Magnus Erlingss0n 
crowned at, 150 ; 159, 162 ; 
Council at, 165 ; 169 ; Sverre 

B B 2 



crowned at, 170 ; Burned 
by Baglers, 174 ; 180, 187 ; 
Council at, 190 ; 194 ; Haakon 
Haakonss0n crowned at, 197 ; 
206, Council of, 212, 215; 
218, 223 ; Provincial Council 
at, 237238; 242; Black 
Death begins at, 245 ; Murder 
of Bishop of, 283, 284; 288; 
Kristian and Dyveke at, 299 ; 
Vincent Lunge comes to, 
306; State Council at, 307; 
Eske Bilde in command at, 
309 ; Lutheran preachers at, 
314; Destruction of churches 
in, 316318 ; Munkeliv de- 
stroyed, 336, 347; Geble 
Pederss0n, Lutheran superin- 
tendent of, 349 

Bergenhus, 307, 316, 335, 340 

Bergliot, 59 

Bernhard, 69, 100 

Bilde, Eske, 309, 31etseq., 329, 
332, 334, 337, 345347 

Bilde, Klaus, 332, 334, 336 

Bilde, Torben, Abp. of Lund, 342 

Birger Magnuss0n, 226, 232, 233 

Birger Pederson, 258 

Birger of Tautra, 210 

Birgitta, St., 131, 258261 

Birk (Sigtuna), 20 

Birkebeiner, The, 154, 183, 191, 

Biskopsrede, 124, 128 

Bjarne Erlingss0n, 217 

Bjarne Lodinss0n, 217, 225 

Bj0rn Farmand, 14, 59 

Bj0rn, King of Sweden, 20 

Black Death(SorteD^),245ese2. 

Blanche of Namur, 241, 259 

"Bloodbath of Stockholm," 304. 

Blot, 6 

Bogesund, 303 

Bolt, Aslak (Harniktss0n), Abp., 
268270, 279 

Bolt, Aslak, Jordebog of, 269 

Bonde, 1 

Boniface IX., Pope, 261 

Borg (Sarpsborg), 64, 75, 81, 189 

Borgar Thing, 74, 126, 142, 211 

Bothwell, 339 

B0mmel Fjord, 251 

Braga, 4 

Breakspeare Nicholas, his Mis- 
sion to Norway, 137 et seq. ; 
Death of, 147 ; 186, 207 

Bremen, 21, 34, 45, 70 

Brimiskjarr, 35 

Brynjulfss0n, Jon, 219 221 

Bugenhagen, 349 

Bukken Fjord, 82 

Burislaf of Vendland, 53 

Bury St. Edmunds, 160 

Byrgess0n, Jon, Bp. and Abp., 
138, 146 

Calixtus III., Pope, 285 

Campeggio, Cardinal, 320 

Catharine of Siena, St., 260 

Cecilia, 114, 115 

Cecilia, Sister of Sverre, 155, 157, 
162, 187 

Celestine III., Pope, 171 

Celestine IV., Pope, 195 

Charles V., Emp., 299, 300, 320, 
331, 338 

Christina, 208 

Cistercians in Norway, 130 

Clement III., Pope, 165 

Clement IV., Pope, 210 

Clement V., Pope, 229 

Clement VI., Pope, 243, 248 

Concordat, T0nsberg, 213 et seq., 
217, 221, 285 

Constantinople, 97, 111 

Copenhagen, 232 ; University 
founded, 287 ; 299, 303, 304, 
321, 324, 329; Taken by 
Count Kristofer, 330 ; Siege 
of 336 ; Surrenders to Kris- 
tian III., 339 ; Coup d'Etat 
at, 341 ; Eigsdag at, 342; 346 

Corvei, 20 

Crusade, Sigurd's, 111. 

Cumbria, 19 

Dagfirm, 191 
Dag Hringss0n, 86 



Dale Gudbrand, 77 

Ditmarsk, 289 

Dominicans in Norway, 130, 206, 


Dovre Fjeld, 113 
Dragseid, 46, 47 
Drammen, 81, 100 
Drotsete first appointed, 239 
Dublin, 13, 17, 19, 41 
Dyveke, 299, 300 

Ebbo of Eheims, 20 

Eidsiva Thing, 8, 46, 142, 211 

Eidsvold, 10 

Eiliv Arness0n, 230, 231, 235, 
239, 241 

Einabu, 82 

Einar Gunnarss0n, 204, 210 

Einar, Thamberskj elver, 59, 81, 

Eindride, 98, 220 

Eivind Kinnriva, 48, 52 

Elgesseter, 130, 162, 194 

Elfsborg, 283 

Elina, 332 

Eliaess0n, Paul, 303 

Enkj0bing, 251 

Erik Blodfikse (Bloodaxe), 14, 
22, 29 

Erik the Good (of Denmark), 

Erik of Hordaland, 11 

Erik Ivarss0n, Abp., 165; Con- 
troversy with Sverre, 166 ; 
Mies to Denmark, 167 ; 
Excommunicates Sverre, 
168; Returns to Norway, 
186 ; Eesigns, 188 

Erik Jarl, 53, 58 

Erik of Jylland, 20 

Erik of Pomerania, 254 ; Marries 
Philippa, d. of Hen. IV. of 
England, 258 ; Norway 
Rebels against, 271 ; Ap- 
points Drotsete, 272; Re- 
jected by Norway and 
Dies, 273 

Erik (Prestehader), 216 ; Corona- 
tion of, 217 ; Regents and 

Abp. Jon., 217; Defends 
the Church, 220; Makes 
new Agreement with Church, 
221; Death of, 223; His 
Daughter, "The Maid of 
Norway," 224 

Erik of Sweden, 51 

Erlend, Bp. of Fseroe, 227 

Erling, 38 

Erling Skakke, 144, 147 

Erling Skjalgss0n, 46, 59, 82 

Erling Steinvaeg, 188 

Erling Vidkunss0n, 239, 241 

Ethelred II., 40, 60 

Ethelward, 41 

Eugenius III., Pope, 136 

Euphemia of Riigen, 225 

Euphemia (sister of Magnus), 250 

Evenvik, 46, 106 

Eystein Aslakss0n, Bp. of Oslo, 

Eystein Erlendss0n, Abp., 61, 
94, 146 ; His Compact with 
Magnus, 151 ; Flies to Eng- 
land, 159 ; Returns to Nor- 
way, 160 ; Compiles " Gol- 
den Feather," 161; Com- 
mences Cathedral, 162 ; 
Death of, 163 

Eystein, King, 110, 113 

Eystein, King (son of Harald 
Gille), 134, 135, 136 ; Killed, 

Eystein M0ila, 154 

Falk0ping, 255 

Fseroe Islands, 13, 57, 138, 217, 

227, 236 

Fidentius, Cardinal, 173 
Filippus, 188, 189 
Finland, 244 

Finn Halldorss0n, 229, 231 
Fitjar, 29 
Fjeldstuer, 113 
Flensborg, 267, 305, 324 
Florence of Worcester, 41 
Florevaag, 169 
Folkvid, 155, 162 
Fountains Abbey, 130 



Franciscans in Norway, 130, 206, 

Frederick I., King of Denmark, 
304; Accepted Conditionally 
in Norway, 307; His Mani- 
festo from Eibe, 308 ; Grants 
Toleration to Lutherans, 
313; Sends Duke Kristian 
to Norway, 314; Orders 
Destruction of Bergen 
Churches, 317 ; Helped by 
Liibeckers against Kristian 
II., 323; His Eesponsibility 
for Breach of Safe Conduct 
to Kristian IT., 325; Death 
of, 326 

Frederick II., Emp., 196 

Frederick III., Emp., 289 

Frederick, Count Palatine, 338, 

Frederick, Duke of Slesvig, 290 

Frederiksvasrn, 64 

Fresze, Herman, 314 

Freya, 4, 6, 10, 73 

Frigg, 3 

Frosta Thing, 8, 46, 142, 205, 211 

Fyen, 343 

Fylke, 6, 7, 13 

Fylke Kirke, 121, 122 

Gaard, 2 

Galle, Olaf, 306, 309 

Gardarike, 82, 83 

Garde, 138, 242, 297 

Gautbert, 20 

Gaute Ivarss0n, 287, 288, 292 

Geble Pederss0n, 336, 337, 348, 

" General Eecess " of Copen- 
hagen, The, 342 

Gilds, 108 

Gims0, 303 

Ginnungagap, 3 

Gissur Thorvaldss0n, 203 

Gissur the White, 56 

Glommen, 65 

"Golden Feather," The, 161, 
167, 201 

Gotland, 197, 272, 273 

Gottorp, 326 

Greenland, 13, 57, 103, 138, 202, 

204, 242, 297 
Gregorius Dagss0n, 144 
Gregory VII., Pope, 109 
Gregory IX., Pope, 195, 203, 207, 


Gregory X., Pope, 212 
Gregory XII., Pope, 267 
Grevens Feide, The, 330 
" Grey Goose," The, 96, 161, 167 
Grim, 89 

Grimkell, 67, 69, 82, 92, 93 
Grubbe, Joachim, 284 
Gudbrandsdal, 75, 77 
Gudrun(Jernskjsegge's daughter) 

Gula Thing, 8, 46, 142, 151, 211 

Gunhild, 22, 29, 33, 40 

Gunhild (Sverre's mother), 156 

Gustav Vasa, 304 

Guthorm, 11 

Guttorm, Abp., 190 

Gyda, 11, 12 

Gyldenstjerne, Knut, Bp. of 

Fyen, 323 
Gyldenstjerne, Mogen, 322, 324, 

Gyrd, Bp. of Stavanger, 248 

Haakon Erikss0n, 63, 81 

Haakon Galin, 187, 188 

Haakon the Good, Birth, 15 ; 
Gains Norway, 23 ; Tries to 
Introduce Christianity, 25, 
27 ; Death, 29 

Haakon Haakonss0n, 187, 189; 
Chosen King, 190 ; and Bp. 
Nicholas, 193 ; Contest with 
Skule, 194 ; Coronation, 196 
199 ; Kristenret of, 201 ; 
Annexes Iceland, 202 ; New 
Law of Succession, 205 ; 
Death of, 206 

Haakon Herdebred, 144, 147 

Haakon Ivarss0n, Abp., 253 

Haak Jarl, 33, 36, 43 

Haakon Magnuss0n (d. 1095) 




Haakon V., Magnuss0n, 225 ; 
His New Law of Succession, 
226; Curtails Power of the 
Barons, 227 ; Appoints a 
"Magister Capellarum 
Eegis,"228,229; His Daugh- 
ter Ingeborg Marries Duke 
Erik, 232 ; Death of, 233 

Haakon VI., Magnuss0n, Marries 
Margaret of Denmark, 250 ; 
Sole King in Norway, 253 ; 
Death of, 253 

Haakon Sverress0n, 185 ; Death 
of, 187 

Haakon, Bp. of Bergen, 242 

Haakon, Abp., 210 

Haalogaland, 8, 48, 52, 76, 239, 

Haarek of Thjotta, 48, 52, 81, 85 

Hadeland, 10, 40 

Hafrsfjord, 12 

Halfdan Hvitbein, 10 

Halfdan Svarte, 10 

Halkel Huk, 114 

Hallkel Jonss0n, 169 

11 Halmstad Recess," 288, 292, 296 

Halsn0 Cloister, 130, 270 

Halvard, St., 99, 119 

Halyard's Skat, 205 

Hamar, 120, 138, 347 

Hamburg, 20, 35 

Hans, King, Accepted as King of 
Norway, 285 ; Issues Halm- 
stad Eecess and is Crowned at 
Trondhjem, 288; Defeated 
by Ditmarskers, 289, 290; 
Sweden and Norway Eebel, 
291; Sends Duke Kristian to 
Norway, 291; Procures Ap- 
pointment of Abp. Valdendorf 
and his Death, 293 

Hans (son of Kristian II.), 324 

Hans, Duke (son of Frederick I.), 
328, 329 

Hanseatic League, 216 

Harald Blaatand, 32, 33, 36 

Harald Gille, 114; Proclaimed 
King, 132; Hangs Bp. 
Eeinald, 133 ; Dies, 133 

Harald Gormss0n, 29 

Harald Graafell, 29, 31, 33 

Harald Grenske, 59, 100 

Harald Haardraade, 76, 84 ; De- 
mands Kingdom, 97 ; Founds 
Oslo, 99; Contest with 
Bremen, 100103; Death 
of, 105 

Harald Haarfagre, 11, 12, 17 

Harald Klak, 11 

Hardeknut, 95 

Haugesund, 15 

Haukby, 109 

Hebrides, 13, 206, 210, 287 

Hedal Church, 246 

Hedemarken, 82, 291 

Heidelberg, 331 

" Heimskringla," The, 202 

Helge the Thin, 19 

Helgeaaen, 80 

Helsingborg, 232, 273, 330 

Hemmingsted, 290 

Henrikss0n, Nils, 306, 319 

Herluf Hufvudfat, 291 

Herreds, 6, 7 

Herreds kirker, 121 et seq. 

Herse, 1 

Hirdmcend, 215 

Hjalte Skjaeggess0n, 56 

Hjort of Vaage, 48 

Hlade, 23, 48, 64 

Hole, 138, 150, 202, 203, 217, 

Holmengraa, 134 

Holstein, 20 

Holy Saviour, Order of the, 261, 
265, 269 

Honorius III., Pope, 190 

Honorius IV., Pope, 220 

Hordaland, 46 

Hoskold Hoskoldss0n, Bp. of 
Stavanger, 311, 337, 347 

Hov, 5, 6 

Hoved0en, 130, 322 

Hfigendes kirker, 121 et seq., 

Hflrg, 6 

Hubert, Abp. of Bremen, 135 

Hundthorp, 77 



Iceland, 13, 54, 55, 138, 203 

Ilevolden, 159 

Inga, 189 

Inge Baardss0n, 187 

Ingeborg (Queen of Magnus 

Lagab0ter), 205, 217 
Ingeborg (d. of Haakon V.), 225, 

228, 232, 239 

Ingeborg of Mecklenburg, 253 
Inge Krokryg, 134, 137 ; Killed, 


Innocent III., Pope, 175, 182, 206 
Innocent IV., Pope, 195, 208 
Innocent VI., Pope, 248 
Interdict, Norway under the, 176 
Isabella (of Burgundy), 299, 320 
Isabella, 224 
Isebrand, Wolf, 290 

Jakob, Bp. of Bergen, 252 

James III. (of Scotland), 287 

Jaroslav, 82, 83 

Jaemtland, 84, 113, 158 

Jens, or Jon, Bp. of Oslo, 270, 


Jernskjaegge of Upphaug, 49 
Jocelin de Brakelond, 160 
Jom, or Jumne, 37 
Jomsvikings, 35, 37 
Jons Kloster, 130 
Jon (Eaude), Abp., 210, 211, 217, 

219, 240 

J0rund, Bp. of Hamar, and Abp., 

220, 223, 224, 226, 230 
Jotuns, 3 

Julefest, 26 

Julius II., Pope, 293 

Jylland, 330, 343 

Kallundborg, 324 

Kalmar, 256, 273 

Kalmar Union, The, 256 et seq. 

Kalteisen, Henrik (Abp.), 281,282 

Kalv Arness0n, 81, 85, 95 

Kalvskindet, 159 

Karl the Great, 20 

Karl, Bp. of Hamar, 291 

Karl of Sweden, 277 

Katharina, 272 

King's Lynn, 197 

Kirkevaag (Orkney), 138 

Kirkeb0 (Fasroe Islands), 138 

Knut the Great, 59, 78, 80 

Knut Porse, 236, 239 

Knutss0n, Alf, 289 

Knutss0n Karl, 272, 275, 285 

Kolbj0rn Stallare, 54 

Koln, 282 

Konghelle, 51, 170, 200 

Kors Kirke (Bergen), 318 

Krabbe, John, 292 

Krabbe, Morten, 331 

Kristenret, St. Olaf's, 71 et seq., 
149; Abp. System's, 161; 
Sverre's, 165 ; of Haakon 
Haakonss0n and Abp. Si- 
gurd, 201, 240; Bp. Thorlak's 
(Iceland), 202 

Kristian I. (Christiern), offered 
Norwegian Crown, 276, 277 ; 
Crowned at Nidaros, 278 ; 
His Policy to Norwegian 
Church, 279; His Compact 
with Marcellus, 280; His 
Conflict with the Pope, 284 ; 
Calls Meeting at Skara, 285 ; 
Accepts T0nsberg Concordat, 
286; Pledges Orkneys and 
Shetlands, 287 ; Founds Co- 
penhagen University, and 
His Death, 287 

Kristian II. (Christiern), King, 
Crowned at Oslo, 296; 
Meets Dyveke and Marries 
Isabella of Burgundy, 299; 
Sigbrit's Influence over, 300; 
Controversy with Abp. 
Valkendorf, 300; Eeceives 
Arcemboldus in Denmark, 
302 ; Patronizes Lutheranism 
and Conquers Sweden, 303 ; 
"Bloodbath of Stockholm," 
304 ; Deposed and Flies to 
Netherlands, 304 ; Abp. 
Olaf Engelbrektss0n Swears 
Allegiance to, 305; Abjures 
Lutheranism, 319, 320 ; In- 
vades Norway, 321 ; Fails 



to take Akershus, 322 ; Sur- 
renders at Oslo, 323 ; Goes 
to Copenhagen under Pro- 
mise of Safe Conduct, 324 ; 
Imprisonment and Death of, 
324 325 

Kristian'lII.,'328 331, 333,337 ; 
Captures Copenhagen, 339 ; 
His Coup d'Etat, 341 ; His 
Manifesto, 342 ; Abolishes 
Norwegian Independence, 

Kristian IV., 350 

Kristine, 188 

Kristofer of Bavaria, 272 

Kristofer of Oldenborg, Count, 

Krummedike, Hartvig, 276, 289 

Krummedike, Henrik, 291, 306, 
307, 309 

Lacman, 61 
Lag<t>re, 148, 166 
Langesund, 64 
Largs, Battle at, 206 
Laurentius, Abbot of Hoved0en, 

Lauritss0n, Mogen, Bp. of Hamar, 


Leif Erikss0n, 57 
Leilandinger, 8 
Lendermznd, 205, 215, 227 
Leo X., Pope, 293, 301 
Liafdag, 34, 35 
Libentius of Bremen, 78 
Liemar, Abp., 109 
Lierre, 349 
Lille Mi0sen, 79 
Lindesnaes, 58 
Linkj0ping, 235 
Livaag, 37 
Lorn, 246 

Lothair, Cardinal, 175 
Louvain, 348 
Liibeck, 302, 329, 330 
Lucie (Nilsdatter), 332 
Ludvig the German, 21 
Ludvig the Pious, 20, 21 

Lund, 104, 135, 342 

Lunge, Vincent, Comes to Nor- 
way, 306 ; Meets Frederick 
I. at Eibe, 307; Eeceives 
Nonnesaeter, 309; Tries to 
Secure Bergenhus, 315 ; 321, 
329; Joins Duke Kristian, 
330; 331; at Council in 
Trondhjem, 333 ; Murdered, 

Luther, 303 

Lykke, Nils, 319, 321, 323, 326, 
332 ; Death of, 335 

Lyse, 130 

Maeren, 49, 50, 77 

" Magister Capellarum Regis," 

229, 231 

Magnus (Barfot), 110 
Magnus, Bp. of Bergen, 114 
Magnus Erlingss0n, Chosen 

King, 145; Crowned, 150; 

His Compact with Abp. 

Eystein, 151 ; Defeats Birke- 

beiner, 154 ; Contest with 

Sverre, 158 ; Killed at Nore, 

Magnus Erikss0n, 235 ; King of 

Sweden and Norway, 236; 

His Mother Ingeborg, 239 ; 

Marries Blanche of Namur, 

241 ; Nicknamed Smek, 242 ; 

Discontent in Sweden, 242 ; 

Attacks Eussians, 244 ; 

Forced to Nominate a Drot- 

sete, 250 ; Drowned in B0m- 

mel Fjord, 251 
Magnus the Good, 95, 97 
Magnus Gissurss0n, 203 
Magnus Lag abater, 209 ; Codifies 

the Law, 211 ; Agrees to 

T0nsberg Concordat, 213 ; 

Gives New Titles to Chiefs, 

214 ; Death of, 215 
Malmfrid, 114 
Man, Isle of, 13, 17, 138, 210, 

243 et seq. 
Marcellus, Bp. of Skaalholt, 278, 

280 et seq. 



Marcus, Bp. of Sodor and Man, 

Margaret, " The Maid of Nor- 
way," 224 

Margaret (of Scotland), 218, 220, 

Margaret, Queen (d. of Valde- 
mar), Marriage of, 250; 
Eules Denmark, 253 ; Eccle- 
siastical Policy of, 254; 
Eegent in Norway, 254 ; 
Gains Sweden, 255 ; Effects 
Kalmar Union, 256 ; Death 
and Character of, 267, 268 

Margaret (d. of Kristian I.), 287 

Margreta, 187, 194 

Marstrand, 277 

Martin, Bp., Sverre's Chaplain, 
170, 177, 190, 228 

Matthias, Bp. of Strengnaes, 304 

Matthew Paris, 196 et seq., 208 

Maximilian I., Emp., 299 

Mechlines, 305 

Meldorf, 290 

Mellitus, 72 

" Michel's Corn," 269 

Mindebager, 28 

Mi0sen Lake, 10, 75 

Mj01nir, 4, 28 

Mortensen, Jens, 315 

Moster, 42, 43, 56, 71 

Mule, Hans, 300, 302, 312 

Munkeliv Cloister, 113, 283, 317, 

Munkholmen, 92, 129 

Mus, Andreas, Bp., 300, 301, 312 

Muspelheim, 3 

Myklegaard, 111 

Namdalen, 76 
Narve, Bp. of Bergen, 220 
" Nemus Unionis," The, 262, 263 
Netherlands, The, 345, 346 
Nesje, 64 

Nial, Bp. of Stavanger, 170, 175 
Nicholas I., Pope, 103 
Nicholas V., Pope, 281 
Nicholas Arness0n, Bp. of Oslo, 
168, 179, 192, 193 

Nicholas Euser, orEusare,254,266 

Nidarholm, Foundation of, 129 

Nidaros, Foundation of, 49 ; 56, 
63, 77, 81, 89, 92, 99, 107, 
119, 121 ; Primacy Founded, 
136; 146, 151,158, 162, 166, 
173, 179, 183, 188, 190, 194, 
206; Council at, 222; 226, 
240, 243; Council at, 249; 
254, 268, 276, 278, 282, 288 

Niffelheim, 3 

Ni0rd, 4, 6 

Nonnesaeter Cloister, 315 

Nore, 159 

Norges Gamle Love, 74 

Normandy, 61 

Northumbria, 24, 63 

Nykj0ping, Castle of, 232 

Odd, 68 

Odel Tenure, 7, 12, 24 

Odense, 253, 312, 313 

Odin, 1, 3, 4, 6 

Odinkar, 35 

Ofoten, 201 

Olaf, Abp., 248, 249 

"Olaf's Corn," 269 

Olaf Engelbrektss0n, Abp., 305, 
307, 320; Proclaims Kristian 
II., 322 ; and the Count Pala- 
tine, 331 ; Eesponsibility for 
Murder of Vincent Lunge, 
334 ; Attempts on Behalf of 
Count Palatine, 335 ; Flight 
from Trondhjem, 345 ; Death 
of, 349 

Olaf Haakonss0n, King of Den- 
mark, 253 ; Death of, 254 

Olaf Haraldss0n (St. Olaf), Birth, 
60; in England and Nor- 
mandy, 60; Baptism, 61 ; In- 
vades Norway, 63 ; Chosen 
King in Viken, 63 ; Victorious 
at Nesje and Founds Borg, 
64 ; Character and Appear- 
ance, 65, 66 ; His Policy, 69; 
As Law-giver, 70 74 ; Chris- 
tianizes the Oplands, 75 ; 



Gudbrandsdal, 78 ; Appeals to 
Abp. Unwan for Help, 78 ; 
Knut's Claims, 80; Flight 
from Norway, 82 ; Eeturns, 
83 ; In Vaerdalen, 84 ; Battle 
of Stiklestad and Death, 
86, 87 ; Disputed Date, 88 ; 
Temporary Burial, 90 ; Body 
Disinterred and Saintship 
Proclaimed, 93 ; Places of 
Burial, 94 

Olaf Kvaran, 41 

Olaf Kyrre, 105, 106 ; Death of, 109 

Olaf Magnuss0n, 110 

Olaf Nilss0n, Governor of Bergen, 
283, 284 

Olaf's Skat, 205 

Olaf of Sweden, 58 

Olaf Thorkildss0n, 333, 348 

Olaf Trygvess0n, Birth and Early 
Life, 40, 41 ; Invades Nor- 
way, 42 ; Chosen King, 43 ; 
Spreads Christianity, 45 et 
seq. ; Founds Nidaros, 49 ; 
Destroys Temple at Mseren, 
51 ; Woos Sigrid, 51 ; Con- 
verts Haalogaland, 52; Battle 
of Svolder and Death, 53 

Oplands, 52, 75, 337 

Orkneys, 13, 17, 33, 42, 96, 138, 
206, 224, 227, 236, 287, 308 

Orm Eysteinss0n, 250 

Orm Lyrgia, 38 

Oslo, Founded, 99 ; 116, 119, 138 ; 
King Inge Killed at, 144 ; 170, 
Skule Defeated at, 194 ; 205, 
223 ; Council at, 225 ; Pro- 
vincial Council at, 227 ; Abp. 
Olaf Dies at, 247; Council 
at, 271; 276; Attacked by 
Swedes, 277 ; 291 ; Bp. Karl 
of Hamar Dies at, 292 ; 300, 
315 ; Kristian II. Arrives at, 
322; Surrenders at, 323; 
332 ; Hans Eeff Evangelical 
Superintendent of, 348 

Ottesdatter, Fru Ingerd, 306, 319, 

Otto II., 33 

Pallie-hjc&lp, 231 

Paolo Justiniani, 284 

Parish Priest, Duties of, 125 

Paschal I., Pope, 20 

Paschal II., Pope, 135 

Paul Baardss0n, Abp., 240, 241 ; 

Death of, 243 
Pederss0n, Absalon, 352 
Pederss0n, Geble, 336, 348, 349 
Pein, Johan, 341 
Perth, Treaty of, 210 
Peter, Abp., 193 
Peter's Pence, 142 
Philip of Castile, 208 
Philippa, (d. of Henry IV. of 

England), 258 
Pius II., Pope, 285 
Pomerania, 273 
Poppo, 33, 35 
Premonstratensians, 130 
Primsigne, 18 
Prussia, 197 
Pudde Fjord, 283 

Eandsfjord, 40 

Eane, 60 

Eaud of God0, 52 

Eagnhild, 11 

Eagnvald of M0re, 12 

Eanrike, 58 

Ee, Battle of, 154, 202 

Eeff, Hans, Bp. of Oslo, 312, 322, 

326, 332, 334, 348 
Eeidar, Abp. of Nidaros, 136 
Eeidar (Sendemand), 172, 180 
Eeinald, 115, 133 
Eeinhard, Martin, 303 
Eeykjaholt, 203 
Eibe, 34, 307 ; Manifesto of, 327 ; 


Eingerike, 45, 60, 61 
Eingsaker, 76 
Eobert of Eouen, 61 
Eoe, Bp., 156 

Eoed, Thord, 323, 335, 346 
Eogaland, 37, 46 
Eoger de Hoveden, 170 
Eolf the Ganger, 14 
Roma Skat, 142 



Eoskilde, 254, 268, 287, 293, 342 
Eostock, 255, 271, 287 
Kouen, 62 
E0kenvik, 10 
E0rek, 76 
Eudolf, 69 

Eufus, St., Monastery of, 137 
Eusheen, Monastery of, 243 
Eussell, Bp. William, 243, 244 
Eussia, 83 
Eussians, 239, 244 
Eustung, Kristofer Throndss0n, 
334336, 339, 344 

Sag<j>re or b<j>der, 148, 166 

Salomon, Bp. of Oslo, 247, 248 

Saracens, 201 

Saeheim, 30 

Saters, 245 

Scilly Isles, 41 

Scotland, 206 

Sekken, 148 

Selje, 47, 63, 119, 130, 258 

Shetlands, 13, 17, 287, 308 

Sidon, 111 

Sigbrit, 299, 300, 301, 304 

Sigefridus, 25, 355 

Sigfrid, or Sigurd, Bp. of Stavan- 

ger, 248 

Sigismund Herberstein, 299 
Sigmund Bretess0n, 57 
Sigrid, 51, 53 
Sigurd (Olaf T.'s Bp.), 42, 45, 48, 


Sigurd (St. Olaf's Bp.), 69, 355 
Sigurd (Knut's Bp.), 86, 90, 92, 


Sigurd, Bp. of Bergen, 130 
Sigurd Eindridess0n, 194, 198, 


Sigurd Erlingss0n, 169 
Sigurd Guttorm Sigurdss0n, 187 
Sigurd Jarl, 23 et seq. 
Sigurd Jonss0n, 272, 276, 277 
Sigurd Jorsalfarer, 110; His 

Crusade, 111 ; Eeproved by 

Bp. Magnus, 114; Death, 

Sigurd Lodvess0n, 42 

Sigurd Mund, 134; Eeceives 
Nicholas Breakspeare, 137 ; 

Killed, 144 

Sigurd Eibbung, 192, 193 
Sigurd Slembediakn (Slembe), 


Sigurd Syr, 45, 60, 63, 84 
Sigurd of Tautra, 192 
Sigvald Jarl, 37, 53 
Sigvat the Skald, 65 
Simon of Durham, 106 
Sodor and Man (Suder0erne and 

Man), 138, 210, 217, 243, 244, 


Sogndals Fjord, 159 
Sogne Fjord, 159 
Sole, 59 

S0nderborg, 324, 329 
S0ndhordland, 29 
S0ndm0re, 345 
S<t>lv</>re, 148 
S0rle, Abp., 204 
Sjale<j>l, 125 

Sjselland, 330, 341, 343 
Skaalholt, 138, 202, 203, 217, 242, 

278, 280, 285, 297 
Skaals, 6, 73 

Skaane, 80, 233, 250, 341, 343 
Skara, 219, 285 
Skule Baardss0n, 189, 190, 191, 


Slagelsee, 253 
Slesvig, 21, 33 
Smaaland, 113 
Snorre Sturlass0n, 202, 203 
Stadt, 37, 47 
Stainmoor, 24 
Stamford Bridge, 99 
Stavanger, Founded, 106; First 

Bishop of, 115 ; Cathedral, 

121 ; 138, 200, 223 
Sten Sture, 302, 303 
Stefner Thorgilss0n, 55 
Stein, Abbot of Munkeliv, 269 
Stenviksholm, 323, 326, 332, 346 
Stephen (Papal Legate), 150 
Stigsen, Otto, 323 
Stiklestad, 86 
Stockholm, 235, 250, 256, 303 



Stord, 29 

Strandhug, 13 

Strinds0, Battle at, 179 

St0dle, 144 

Svein Tjugeskjaeg, 37, 52, 53, 
59, 60, 76 

Svein Jarl, 64 

Svein Knutss0n, 91 

Svein Ulfss0n, 97, 135 

Sverker Karlss0n (of Sweden), 

Sverre Sigurdss0n, King, Birth, 
156 ; Early Life, 157 ; Leads 
Birkebeiner, 158 ; Defeats 
Magnus, 159 ; Eeconciled to 
Bystein, 163; His Kristen- 
ret, 165 ; Contest with Abp. 
Erik, Excommunicated, 168 ; 
Crowned, 170 ; Struggle with 
Baglers, 172 ; His Embassy 
to Pope, 173 ; Struggle with 
Innocent III., His Tale mod 
Biskoperne, 177, 179; De- 
feats Baglers, 180; Death 
and Character, 182184 

Svolder, 53, 58 

Sysselmand, 164, 227 

Sylte, 82 

Sunniva, St., 47, 119 

Tale mod Biskoperne, The, 177, 


Tautra, 190, 210, 319, 334 
Teodbrand, or Thangbrand, 


Theodore of Niem, 249, 262 
Things, 2 
Thor, 4, 73 

Thora of Guldalen, 43 
Thora of Moster, 14 
Thore, Bp. of Hamar, 170, 173 
Thore, Abp., 193 
Thore Hund, 81, 85, 93 
Thore Klakka, 41, 42 
Thorfinn, Bp. of Hamar, 219 
Thorgil, 89 
Thorkel the Tall, 60 
Thorkildss0n, Olaf , Bp. of Bergen, 

311, 318, 333 

Thorlak Thorhallss0n, 202 
Thorleif Olafss0n, Bp. of Bergen, 

283, 284, 288 
Thorny, 99 

Thorvald Kodranss0n, 55 
Thyra, 53 
Tithes, 111, 128, 218, 221, 257, 


Thrond, Abp., 252, 253 
Throndss0n, Abp. Olaf, 279, 281, 

285, 287 

Torolv Luseskjaeg, 40 
Tostig, 99 
T0nsberg, 14, 132, 154, 180, 200, 

213, 233, 271 

Translation of St. Olaf, 94 
Trolds, 4 

Trolle, Gustav, Abp., 303 
Troms0, 201 

Tr0ndelagen, 8, 34, 42, 145 
Trondhjem, 288, 293 ; Abp. Erik 

Leaves, 300; 304; Fire at, 

321 ; 323, 326, 345, 347 
Trygve, 31, 40 
Turgot, 106 

Ulf Gudmarson, 259 
Ulfstand, Truid, 346, 347 
Ulster, 110 
Unas, 156 

Unwan of Bremen, 78, 101 
Upsala, 235, 272, 275 
Urban II., Pope, 135 
Urban IV., Pope, 210 
Urban V., Pope, 260, 261 
Urban VI., Pope, 266 
Urguthrj0tr, 35 
Utrecht, 301 

Vadstena, 261, 269 

V^rdal, 84 

Vserne Priory, 326 

Valdemar Atterdag, 253, 267 

Valdemar of Gardarike, 40 

Valders, 75 

Valdendorf, Erik, Abp., 293, 296, 

301, 304, 311 
Vardberg, 242 
Vasa, Gustavus, 330 

382 INDEX. 

Vebj0rn, 99 

Vendland, 40, 53 

Vends, 96 

Vermland, 155 

Vestfold, 10 

Viborg, 279 

Viborg, Jens, 314 

Victor IV., Pope, 147 

Viken, 31, 34, 36, 45, 59, 145, 


Viking Expeditions, 17, 107 
Vinalde Henrikss0n, Abp., 257, 


Vincent, Bp. of Skara, 304 
Vinland, 57 
Vitalie-brtdre, The, 255 

Von Heiderstorp, 323 
Voss, 333 

William of Jumieges, 61 
William of Malmesbury, 25 
William of Newbury, 160 
William, Cardinal Bp. of Sabina, 

196, 316 
Winchester, 115 
Wismar, 255 

0lgerdir, 73, 108 
01mod the Old, 46 
01ve of Egg, 77 
0re Thing, 333 
0steraat, 306 

NOTE. aa, as in Haakon, etc., is pronounced like a long o ; the 
final e is always sounded, but as a short e ; sk, before i or j t is 
pronounced as sh ; is like the French eu or German 0. 



Historical Map 


Gusiav Storm 

Including fhe Country around Mdaros 
(Trondhjem) and Oslo (Krisiiania.) 

flenjorrv fyim. JiihAnsi. Ans 



TO ^ 202 Main Library 








s may D. 

ih. Grcu.atton Oe S K 


APR 9 1984 

-c'dcirc. JUL12 


OCT 15 1997 

FORM NO. DD6, 60m, 1/83 BERKELEY, CA 94720